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NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 11:36 a.m.

Big LS&I RSD-12s meet even bigger Chicago & North Western C628s at the Eagle Mills shop.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 11:43 a.m.

A U25C and two U23Cs vomit black smoke as they get a trains started at Empire Junction. The #2501 is 50% of the LS&I U25C fleet, which was the 6-axle companion to the U25B. The origin of the U25C is a bit amusing, since it was developed out of the need for six axle locomotives to operate on a 12-mile heavy haul railroad to construct Oroville Dam. The General Electric salesman to Oro Dam Constructors offered essentially a U25B riding on six axle trucks, only to get back to GE's Erie Plant and discover that no six axle U25 was available, nor did GE really wish to construct a domestic six axle road switcher until the horsepower threshold reached 3000 horsepower. Rather than lose the four unit sale, GE quickly began a design of a six-axle U25 that relied heavily on the U25B for engineering. The U25C was longer than the U25B by four feet four inches to accommodate the improved Trimount trucks. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 1:39 p.m.

In 2008, LS&I had made it known they were looking to retire the U30Cs, since they were over 30 years old at the time. Union Pacific was retiring some ex-C&NW SD60s, and a trio of them made their way up to Marquette for testing as possible replacements. The irony was that in the '80s, C&NW had tried replacing their ex-N&W C628s in ore-hauling service with SD50s and SD60s and was never very happy with them in that capacity, and apparently LS&I also found that the SD60s, for whatever reason, still didn't work too well with iron ore drags.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 3:59 p.m.

A trio of the ex-N&W C628s lead a loaded ore train across flat land near Escanaba, MI during August of 1975. The C&NW had long assigned their old Fairbanks-Morse H-16-66 "Baby Train Masters" to this line in ore-hauling service, but by the mid-1970s, they were all headed for 20 years old, and Fairbanks-Morse had been out of the locomotive business almost as long. Around the same time, N&W was in the midst of cleaning out their roster of all the non-EMD and non-GE stuff that they had acquired over the years. N&W had bought both C628s and C630s in high hood form, and while they had liked the C628s, other than their track-mangling tendencies from those Tri-Mount trucks, they had really hated the C630s. As a result, the C628s had been run pretty hard, while the C630s didn't have much run time on them, since N&W stored them and only used them as reserve power. 

C&NW had tried using some other stuff on the territory, including testing some big 5000hp B+B-B+B U50s that UP was looking at getting rid of, but decided to buy the Alcos from N&W. The C630s were in better condition but N&W wanted more money for them, and the C&NW wasn't called the Cheap & Nothing Waster for no good reason, so they grabbed up the old C628s, repainted it in yellow and green, and put them into service. The C628s lasted until 1986, when they were parked, and were all scrapped in 1990. The fact that no one managed to save any of the C628s, after they had otherwise passed into extinction in the US, seems like a major gaffe.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:03 p.m.

Recently delivered and not even repainted or renumbered, three of the ex-N&W C628s are already on the job. N&W ordered them with dual control stands, so they could be run either direction, but C&NW pretty quickly ditched one of the stands and set them up so that the short hood was the lead.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:06 p.m.

A general manifest freight rolls east near Powers, MI on June 9, 1983 with two of the C628s in charge. Those around in the day said that these C628s had the tendency to show up in some of the damndest places.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:08 p.m.

Three of the C628s sit around at the Escanaba roundhouse

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:17 p.m.

LS&I RSD-15s standby while C&NW C628s bring a bunch of interchange cars to the LS&I's Eagle Mills MI Yard. Taken on July 30, 1986, the lead C628 looks surprisingly clean considering it's on borrowed time. The story was that C&NW stored the units in 1986 after they replaced them, and then was planning to include them in the sale of the Duck Creek North lines. C&NW entered into talks with Fox River Valley Railroad but the attempt to sell it went south, and so in 1990 they traded them in to EMD, where they were then sent to Pielet Brothers for scrap. The Duck Creek North lines were eventually sold to Wisconsin Central, which had ironically taken over the Fox River Valley, two years after Union Pacific took over the C&NW.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:20 p.m.

C628s arriving at the steel mill in Escanaba with loaded cars.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:23 p.m.

Three CNW C628s race through Brampton, MI with empty cars in tow. You can see the slight differences in paint schemes between the two lead units: earlier units just had the green band around the top of the cab, while later on, CNW said "Screw it" and painted the whole cab green.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:28 p.m.

An odd couple work the ore dumper at Escanaba. The lead unit is, of course, one of the big C628s, but the rear unit is one of the weirdo Baldwin/EMD hybrids that C&NW built. They took their old Baldwin AS616s and installed an EMD long hood and an EMD V16 in them. By the time of this photo, C&NW didn't let the AS616ms stray very far from the yard at Escanaba, and they had slapped them with a 25mph speed restriction on account of the friction bearings in the trucks. I also seem to remember hearing that the Baldwin 6-axle trucks on these were prone to developing cracks later in life, which retired a lot of the DRS-6-6-1500s and AS616s, which may have also contributed to their speed restriction. The repowered Baldwins vanished entirely by 1981. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:36 p.m.

Two C628s lead a loaded ore train near Goose Lake in 1983. The lead unit is much grungier, and is in the older "Stagecoach Yellow", while the cleaner trailing unit is in the later, paler "Zito Yellow". I much prefer the Stagecoach Yellow, personally. Typically these trains rated three C628s on the lead, but according to C&NW fans, this was during a phase where C&NW was trying them with two units on the lead and a single unit cut in ahead of the caboose. This required two crews, which likely resulted in them quickly going back to the old phase.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:48 p.m.

The vanquisher: in 1986 the Missouri Pacific had placed an order for another batch of 35 SD50s as a follow-up to a previous order of 60 units, but then MP walked on the order. If I had to take a guess, MoPac had the same issues with the SD50s that everyone else had and changed their mind on getting more. C&NW stepped up and traded in the 30 C628s for the 35 SD50s and sent them up to the ore-hauling lines in UP Michigan. The deal was that the SD50s, with more horsepower and a supposedly more sophisticated wheelslip management system, would be able to do a 2-for-3 replacement of the C628s. The crews disagreed though, and found that two SD50s didn't have quite enough dynamic brakes to handle loaded trains down into Escanaba. They also had the other issues that SD50s typically had, and they were quickly replaced with SD60s which had also been ordered, and then canceled, by another railroad (SOO Line) that C&NW stepped up to grab. Those didn't work out either, for whatever reason, and they were replaced with good ol' SD40-2s, and the SD50s and SD60s were sent elsewhere. As the photographer noted, he had been there the year before to catch the Alcos in the twilight of their career, since the word had gotten out, and there were photographers galore. After the SD50s arrived, he said he didn't see another photographer there the year after.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:50 p.m.

The vanquished. The rugged old Fairbanks-Morse H-16-66s had held down the Upper Peninsula ore lines for years before the purchase of the C628s. It's honestly amazing, and a testament to how rugged the F-Ms actually were, that they survived in this grueling service for this long after they had been produced. With 1600hp and 6-axles, they were nicknamed "Baby Train Masters", since they were smaller than the big H-24-66 "Train Masters".

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:51 p.m.

Big GE C40-8s testing on the line as a possibility of replacing the SD40-2s, after those had replaced the SD50/SD60s.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 4:56 p.m.

Baby Train Masters near Rock, Michigan, in their final days.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/26/24 8:34 a.m.

I love this photo John Bjorklund took of a C&NW RS-3 at the crumbling remains of a roundhouse in Winona, Minnesota in '77

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/26/24 8:59 a.m.

A similar photo of a C&NW Baby Train Master ar the Escanaba roundhouse

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 12:22 p.m.

C&NW RS-11 #4251 sits and waits, while an Alco S-series switcher in the backgrounds works a grain elevator in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 12:37 p.m.

A child sits and watches as C&NW RS-11 #4251 switches cars at Springfield, Minnesota. The #4251 was the sole RS-11 on the C&NW roster, and was purchased secondhand from the C&NW, where it was the sole RS-11. What?

The Southern Railway had a subsidiary known as the Carolina & North Western, and after a bad experience with their DL-109s and RS-3s, Southern wanted no more to do with Alco products. But the shop forces on the Carolina & North Western liked the Alco products and felt that on their small division with a shop force that was focused on Alcos, Alco products still had a future. Their management convinced the executives at Southern Railway to allow them to purchase a new Alco, with hopes that it would perform well and Southern would purchase more Alco products.

A single RS-11 was produced and painted in Southern black and white, with gold Carolina & Northwestern lettering, and delivered to the Carolina & Northwestern shops for a test run, which all of Southern management was to be present at. Except the #11, as it was numbered, refused to load properly and kept tripping breakers. The Carolina & Northwestern crews and an Alco representative pored over the locomotive trying to find the issue and after spending two days checking every piece of wiring, they found a single broken wire. It was then fired up and made it's test run, but by that point the test run had been delayed, and the Southern management decided not to attend, as well as to never buy another Alco product. 

The #11 had a fairly long live, despite it's inauspicious start, but was eventually traded in to GE on a U23B. Chicago & North Western then purchased the RS-11 used from GE, and moved it out to their lines in Minnesotat. It was renumbered to #4251 and became the only example of the model on the Chicago & North Western's roster. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 12:40 p.m.

Passing through Lamberton, Minnesota. Check out the medium brown Ranchero with the dark brown bed cap. How '70s!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 12:41 p.m.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/27/24 1:27 p.m.

Interesting article somehow linking New York's 20th Century Limited and Steely Dan on MSN News.

MSN.com: Five mind-blowing facts - New York Central passenger trains

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 2:32 p.m.

In reply to VolvoHeretic :

On the last run of the 20th Century Limited, I remember reading in one book, I can't remember which, where because it ran so late, at the time where it was supposed to have arrived in Chicago, it technically stopped being the 20th Century Limited. The crew even made an announcement to the effect of "as of this moment, you are no longer aboard the 20th Century Limited, this is now Extra #xxx Westbound."

The big mistake with the Century was that the Central went chasing new money ridership in the post-war era. They bought that huge order of passenger cars to retool, just as the bottom fell out of the passenger market from the dizzying highs of 1944, but they failed to realize that new money will always chase after the trendiest methods of travel (airline). The Century's biggest competitor, PRR's Broadway Limited, was a bit stodgier and catered more towards old money patricians, who were more set in their ways, and so had better ridership in the '60s. That's partly why the Century was discontinued in the leadup to Penn Central, while the Broadway hung around, but also that was because PRR was the one buying out NYC in that merger and PRR management didn't want it to look like NYC "won out" in the merger process. The irony there was that the NYC was profitable, while the PRR was obsolete, deeply in debt and hemorrhaging money.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/27/24 2:54 p.m.

For the 9000th(!) post in this thread, a photo of Union Pacific 4-12-2 #9000 passing over a freeway in East Los Angeles, CA on May 3rd, 1956, the sole time that one of these 3-cylinder monsters visited this area under its own power. It was headed to Pomona to be donated for static display, where it remains today. The three-cylinder 4-12-2s were operated in very specific territory due to their long wheelbase and they never came this far west and south, so the route had to be chosen very carefully. Even then, there were some areas where they had to proceed very carefully and with lots of crew on the ground, greasing flanges and making sure that they didn't put her on the ground. While I'm not a big UP guy, the 9000s are a favorite of mine, just for the sheer freak factor of them. And for all their outrageousness, they were quite a successful locomotive too.

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