Road Switchers

RS-3 photos
RS-1 photos
RS-10/RS10S photos
RS-11 photos
RS-18 photos

David Othen has compiled this information with help from Leslie Ehrlich and Don McQueen. Several published sources were used including: "CN LINES", the CNRHA's magazine, "Canadian National Railway Locomotives" (Nos. 48-50, 1974-1975) by Ray Corley et al (courtesy of Don McQueen), "The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide" by Jerry A. Pinkepank, "The Diesel Spotter's Guide Update" by Jerry A. Pinkepank and Louis A. Marre, "The Canadian National Railways' Story" by Patrick C. Dorin, various editions of the "Canadian Trackside Guide" edited by Earl W. Roberts and David P. Stremes, several of the photo albums published by BRMNA (Calgary) and various issues of Railroad Model Craftsman, of "CN Movin" and of Extra 2200 South. Many thanks to everybody who has contributed photographs from their collections — Ed Barry, Ron Blumer, George Carpenter, Paul Charland, Steve Hunter, Bill Linley, Don McQueen, E.D. Motis, and Don Ward (their names appear on the large photographs).
History of purchases of ALCo/MLW Road Switchers

As Canadian National began to use diesels for their freight operations during the 1950s, the railway initially purchased A and B cab units but soon decided to turn to diesels with the road switcher type of carbody. Beginning in 1953 they purchased MLW four-axle (B-B) 1600 hp RS-3 and RS-10/RS10S Road Switchers. These were followed by 225 1800 hp RS-18s and 41 2400 hp C-424s. For rural branchline use, CN purchased 39 unique six-axle RSC13s and RSC24s (1000 and 1400 hp respectively). Then, beginning in the mid-1970s CN purchased 90 2000 hp M-420W and HR412 locomotives.

CNR also purchased American-built ALCo RS-3s and RS-11s for its CV, DW&P and GTE subsidiaries and two 1000 hp RS-1s for the GTW.

Unlike the switcher units, CN's Road Switchers built before 1961 were painted in the handsome green and yellow livery — green body (CNR Green No 11) with yellow (CNR Yellow No 11 commonly called "Imitation Gold") frame. The main body was green and on each side was a yellow stripe, curved at the ends, on which was "Canadian National" in black letters. On the ends of both the long and short hoods, there was a roughly triangular yellow area, with curved sides at the top and below this there was a curved V-shaped, yellow band that narrowed and dipped to a point. Near this point (sometimes above and sometimes below depending on the exact shape of the band) was the early diesel nose leaf monogram (CNR in white on a red maple leaf with a circular yellow background whose outside diameter is 28 inches). On units painted after late 1953, the 1954 round monogram with an outside diameter of 20 inches was used (the white "CNR" was replaced by "Canadian National Railways" in yellow). Several variations of the green and yellow livery exist because the drawings made by the manufacturers and later the CNR, beginning about 1956, had only partial dimensions. By 1961 the drawings were more detailed.

In 1961 the CN symbol (designed by Alan Fleming) and paint scheme appeared on new and repainted locomotives. The locomotive carbody was black with orange (CNR Orange No 11) hood ends and off-white (CNR Grey No 17) lettering and striping around the frame. In 1973 the first M-420W built, 2500, introduced the zebra-stripe scheme with orange cab and reflective yellow striping around the edge of the frame. This paint scheme was simplified in 1992 with a single white stripe and the CN North America map. However the map was not used on switchers and road switchers. All first-generation MLW Road Switchers were retired before the end of the century and only a few units were repainted in this livery.