Canadian Pacific Railway RSD-17 #8921
This locomotive was nicknamed the “Empress of Agincourt” for several reasons. First, because it is the only RSD-17 ever built. Second, it had a reputation for breaking down. #8921 spent a lot of time in the Agincourt rail yards (near Toronto) due to the ineffective wheel alignment changes it underwent.
The locomotive was built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1957. It was originally loaned to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from May-December of 1957 with the road number #7007. It was then transferred to Canadian National (CN) for testing and was renumbered #3899.
CN only had this locomotive for four months when they rented it out to the Pacific Great Eastern (now BC Rail) until October of 1958 under road number #624. Finally, in 1959, CPR purchased the locomotive and gave it its current number: #8921.
CPR’s #8921 received various road numbers and paint schemes over the years but, in 1988, it went through radical cosmetic alterations when CPR chopped the nose hood in order to increase frontal visibility. This modification also granted it the nickname of an “alligator” because of the resemblance between the low noses.
In 1995, CPR was forced to retire the locomotive due to irreparable truck problems (the truck is the lower carriage piece that connects to the wheels). However, realizing the historic value of 8921, CPR endeavoured to find a group willing to preserve it.
Fortunately, in 1997, 8921 was donated to the Elgin County Railway Museum where it underwent a major cosmetic paint job in 2007. This was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (which paid for the sandblasting and primer), Sterling employees (who donated their time), and DuPont Paint Company (which donated $47,000 worth of paint). Today, CPR’s 8921 looks brand new after restoration.