A Trip on the Budd Cars
April 30 & May 1, 2009
(click on each image to see a larger version -- approx 1024X768)

VIA runs passenger service every other day between Sudbury and White River, Ontario using these self-powered passenger cars called RDC's or Railway Diesel Cars.  They were manufactured by Budd in Philadelphia and most commonly referred to as "Budd Cars."

Sudbury station

Once we boarded, Howard quickly found his way to the front where the crew was happy to let him settle in.  The conductor doesn't usually ride up front so the space on the left side is always free.  One of us stayed in that spot pretty much the entire trip!

Howard looking ahead Engineer at the controls
The spot in the photo at left is the park where we'd shot a few photos in Sudbury, we're heading West out of town, the CN viaduct is overhead and the line to Sault Saint Marie is off to the left.

We're running on a mainline railroad, actually CP's transcontinental route so we met plenty of other trains.  I didn't try to keep up with train numbers or even where we met them.


The trains CP runs on this line are long and almost all utilized DPUs or Distributed Power Units (multiple locomotives acting as one unit for large trains). Many times they are placed about two-thirds back but in this case the DPU is at the rear so I could photograph it from the rear cab of the Budd car.


Out here they call the homesteads "camps" and most are only accessible by the train.  People don't live here year-round but quite a few do stay here from "break-up to freeze-up."


This is a common occurrence on the Budd cars: dropping passengers and supplies at places marked only by a path into the woods.  The Budd car crews really have to know their territory!

I'm not sure what the MOW guys were burning, but they wouldn't have to worry about forrest fires today -- rain & snow followed us all the way.

Sperry #119 "Bob Owen"

According to the crew, there were three Sperry cars working this stretch of railroad.  Darn!  I only managed to photograph this one!

#119, "Bob Owen"



Here we took the diverging route to pass around a waiting train on the main.  The white caboose is a work train parked in the house track off the siding.



Not an uncommon practice to heat the rail to make a joint line up, but take a look at this and consider where these guys are.

Yep! You can see them in the lower right, not far beyond the FUEL rack!


Fuel rack in Champleau

This old girl sitting in Chapleau is one of the first SD40-2s CP owned.  Straighten me out on this -- it went to the St Lawrence & Hudson but came back to the CP in some kind of corporate reoganization effort???  I'm confused...

Just about anything that can fit is loaded onto the Budd cars.  Of course you have to consider where they go -- UPS & Fedex would probably laugh at an address like "Big tree just past milepost #87."
At the station it was noticed that we had been leaking deisel since leaving the fuel rack just a couple hundred yards East.  It turned out not to be a problem -- the second engine on this RDC had been removed but its fuel line had not.  It was "fixed" by plugging the open line with foam ear plugs!

I was riding in the rear cab when we stopped for this Eastbound to go into the siding around us.  Since I was alone in the rear car I took the liberty to open the baggage door for a shot between the trains of the DPU and signal.  Returning to the rear cab I saw a headlight headlight of a train behind us, coming ahead on a restricted signal.  Yep, busy mainline railroading, and they squeeze us in where traffic allows!


The Eastbound has cleared and we're on our way, but that following Westbound train was on our tail all the way to White River!





Tall signals, eh?


Traffic was heavy just before White River.  We were folloing a train and here met another Eastbound with a blue leased unit in the lead.


As the Eastbound passed I walked to the rear car's cab again for a going-away shot of the DPU I expected to be on the end.

Sure enough!  When I got there I was looking into the headlights of that trailing train again!  Think about it -- we had trains on three sides of us!


It was raining and chilly when we pulled into White River so we said "see ya tomorrow!" to the crew and called the motel...


White River has only one claim to fame and that is this little bear.  The short story is that during WWI Captain Harry Colebourn purchased the orphaned cub from a local trapper while his troop train was stopped here, en route to France.  He named her Winnie for his home city of Winnipeg and left her at the London Zoo when he went on to war in France.  It was at the zoo that author A. A. Milne discovered her became inspired Milne to write the children’s stories that we all know...

Howard and Winnie the Pooh

That's mile Zero on the Heron Bay Sub-division.


Howard in his usual post.

I glad the heat worked and the cars were weather-tight!  A wet snow was falling almost all morning!

A Camp

Another of what the locals call a "camp"; accessible only by railroad!

That's not bad focus -- that kid was always a blur!

The bottom signal is something new to the line up here.  In this case the engineer announced it "medium clear to clear" and it meant we're taking the diverging route (around a waiting train) and have a clear signal at the other end onto the main.  He said it really is a help knowing they can continue.


A Moose!!!

Howard's other spot, riding in the specially built captain's chair in the rear cab.  That side has the flip-up steps and no fixed seat so the shop crew improvised with this removable chair.

Taking on fuel in Chapleau


Two cranes and a loon...

Yea, I was kind of disappointed with the amount of wildlife I was able to photograph on this trip, but then, I was on a moving vehicle cruising between 40 & 60mph and trying to shoot through glass.

Into the siding for another meet.  I missed it from the front but caught the DPU from the rear cab.



Sperry #119 again








Howard gave a last wave as the Budd cars departed on today's run, then it was time to load ourselves for the journey home.

May 2, 9:05am

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Proud to be an American!
Mack Muir