TH&B 70 ton hoppers – Part 2 How the Cars were Used

TH&B 1243 is in Kinnear Old South Yard in the early 90s. Photo by Gerry Schaefer

TH&B 1243 is in Kinnear Old South Yard in the early 90s.

In the previous post in this series, way back in September 2012, I wrote about how buying two sets of decals for TH&B 70 hoppers in HO scale by Aberdeen Car Shops brought this project from the shelf to the side-burner, so to speak.  All of my projects languished for a while, given the fact that I had started new jobs in both of my professions (I’m a busy guy), but now that things are running more smoothly on both fronts, I have a bit more time for leisure.

After finding the decal sets at the hobby shop, I unpacked two very old Stewart 70 ton 9-panel triple hopper kits that I had on hand from ages ago.  While the details on this kit are a bit crude by today’s standards, the car is generally correct for the TH&B.  As with my other projects, I undertook some research to find how the TH&B used these cars, and how to come up with a reason for having them in the fleet on the WRMRC.  Besides, I like to have some projects on the go that are relatively simple undertakings.  These serve as a nice break from the more demanding work of, say, building over a dozen ore cars in an assembly line.

In the previous post in this series, I mentioned that the decal set comes with nice background information these cars.  The fleet consisted of 50 cars that were built by National Steel Car in Hamilton, and delivered in September of 1960.  Lance Brown, the archivist for the TH&B Railway Historical Society, indicates that during the 1970s, there were a few ways that TH&B earned revenue from these cars.

Firstly, TH&B contributed 30 cars to a pool of hoppers that were in ore service between Adams Mine near Dane Ontario and Pittsburgh PA.  According to Lance’s records, the following cars were committed to that service, as of 1970:

1202     1204     1207     1208     1209     1210     1213     1214

1215     1218     1220     1221     1223     1224     1225     1226

1228     1229     1232     1235     1236     1237     1239     1240

1241     1242     1244     1245     1246     1249

That service was probably not routed over the TH&B, but their involvement in the pool likely had something to do with the New York Central’s (Penn Central at the time) part ownership of the TH&B, and the fact that the ore was at least partially routed across PC.  Perhaps the TH&B cars represent part of NYC’s contribution? Some of those cars received a white circular marking stating “RETURN TO CNR VIA BUFFALO.”  The routing to CNR in Buffalo suggests that they travelled along the Grimsby Subdivision of the CNR through Niagara, instead of across the TH&B.  Later, the routing symbol was simplified to simply a while circle below the word “Toronto.”  In the images below, two cars show the white circles.  What’s not clear to me is whether the lettering has eroded from these circles, or if they never had them.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1221 in Aberdeen Yard.  Photo by Gerry Schaefer.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1221 in Aberdeen Yard in the early 1990s. Photo by Gerry Schaefer.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1231 in Kinnear Old South Yard.  Photo by Gerry Schaefer

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1237 in Kinnear Old South Yard. Photo by Gerry Schaefer

During 1970, Penn Central managed to destroy five of these cars in five separate instances. The wrecked cars were:

1207     1210     1235     1241     1245
Lance Brown reports that the twenty cars remaining from the fleet that were not in ore service were assigned to general service, which included carrying scrap tinplate on the Hamilton Belt Line, coke at Stelco, limestone at Canada Crushed Stone in Dundas, slag for National Slag, and “slime” for INCO between Port Colborne and Sudbury Ontario.
All of those services seemed self-evident except “slime” service.  After some additional research, I learned that “slime” is the accumulation of minerals other than nickel on the cathode of a nickel refiner, which is the operation that INCO had in place at Port Colborne.    Basically, the raw nickel ore has a great number of other minerals, and when it is refined into nickel, those metals accumulate on the cathode as slime, which can be collected and then further refined to separate out the precious metals.  INCO collected the slime from their refinery in Port Colborne and shipped it to Sudbury to separate out the valuable leftovers.
With evidence of these TH&B hoppers having made regular appearances in Sudbury, I was even more motivated to get to the bottom of this.  In the next post in this series, I’ll outline the research on car loading frequency in order to establish a fleet of cars for the WRMRC.
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