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NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/28/24 11:32 a.m.

Well, the scrapping continues at the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville. Yesterday, #319 and #418 were reduced to metal cubes with a cutting torch. The #319 was a C424 that had been purchased from the Green Bay & Western. The engine was originally one of the RS-27 demonstrators, then went back to Alco and was rebuilt to C424 specs and sold to Pennsylvania Railroad. It was the only C424 on the PRR roster, with Pennsy instead opting for 31 of the slightly more powerful C425s instead. From what someone who is more familiar with the LA&L has said, it was not operational when LA&L received it and was used as a parts donor and was supposedly too far gone to even make a cosmetic display piece.

The #418 was the last remaining unit of the Nickel Plate's RS-36s, which were the last major order of diesels from the NKP before the merger with the N&W (they received a single GP35 to replace a wrecked Geep right before they merger). This had been in operation at least as recently as 2018, but supposedly had developed a bent frame somehow that knocked it out of service. Hopefully the good parts, like the prime mover and traction motors and generators, were at least scavenged, although I imagine with LA&L winding down the usage of Alcos, they probably weren't.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/28/24 12:03 p.m.

Raven Rail did go out to the LA&L shops and grabbed a bunch of spare Alco parts as part of a group buy. Not sure who all was in on it, but it looks like they got pistons, rods, maybe some heads, some journal boxes, brake cylinders, and traction motors.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/28/24 12:28 p.m.

Colebrookdale Railroad posted on Facebook that they are repainting their GP38-2, the #5182, currently. They got that unit a couple years back and were using it for the freight portion of their operations, the Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad in really scruffy NS paint. It was originally built for Southern Railway and then became an NS unit, but it was still set up "Southern style", long hood forward controls and a high hood.

In primer.

And the plan is to paint it  in the same dark blue, black and gold that their ex-Conrail/exx-Penn Central/exxx-Pennsylvania GP10 currently wears.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/28/24 12:47 p.m.

I actually ran that GP38-2 last year when I went down to Reading & Northern for the RDC trip to Tremont. I had purchased their "Engineer For A Day" ticket and when I got there, I was admittedly disappointed to see a scruffy GP38-2 in patched out Norfolk Southern paint idling away. I had really wanted to run that really nice GP10 that they had, but they weren't running that that weekend.

Unlike when I ran the steam locomotives at Strasburg, where the engineer handled the brakes and kept a close eye on everything and we only went about a half mile up the tracks and back, the engineer explained what everything was and said "Okay, it's downhill headed this way, keep the speed under 15mph and let's head out." We didn't go all the way down the line, but we went quite a ways. Headed out was a juggling act of working the independent brake and the throttle to keep the speed down but not come to a complete stop, and remembering to smack the alerter button. Modern diesels are equipped with a system where if there isn't a throttle or brake adjustment after so much time, they begin a countdown. First it flashes a light at you, then if you ignore that, it starts making a beeping noise, then further inattentiveness causes it to emit a solid tone, and then if you don't take action, it dumps the emergency brakes. It's a safety system similar to a dead man's brake, where if the engineer is indisposed, it shuts down the locomotive. Coming back was uphill the whole way and I rarely touched the brake, I just controlled my speed by going between Idle, Run 1, and Run 2 on the throttle. The only time I really used the brakes on the way back was when the locomotive would get into a bad oscillation. According to the engineer, there's something wrong with either the trucks on the #5128, where it tends to get rocking back and forth much worse than the GP10 and the only way to get it to stop is to slow way down. Their track also isn't the smoothest, not helped by long sections of it being on damp clay that likes to move around, and while headed down, I got that thing into a violent rocking and I was thinking "I'm about to put this thing on the dirt." I really had to clamp the brakes down and drop my speed almost to nothing to get it under control

I'll also say this, I get why LHF operation went away, you can't see much when running that way, although they had added a camera on the top of the hood. Running short hood forward, the high hood really wasn't that detrimental to vision, but the controls were kind of behind me, and the alerter light was just at the very edge of my peripheral vision. Once we got back to Boyerstown, I was congratulated on my handling of the locomotive. We stopped short of the passenger cars, and he asked if I wanted to play brakeman. We dropped down and he showed me how to do a check on the couplers and pins, and taught me the hand signals, and then I waved him in, we hooked the locomotive up to the cars and did a quick pull test. Very cool experience.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/29/24 10:18 a.m.

I am curious what the status of any of the Colebrookdale steam locomotives actually is.

In 2021, the Maguire Foundation bought Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 #18 from the Iowa Pacific Holdings auction and entered a deal where they would own and maintain it, and Colebrookdale would store it and allow it to run on their rails. It was moved to the Colebrookdale in March of '21, but that's really the last I heard of it. Seems the Maguire Foundation is pretty close-lipped about it's status. I don't think there were even any photos of it arriving at the Colebrookdale and it's been hidden away since it arrived.

In January of 2021, Colebrookdale also announced they were going to buy Grand Trunk Western #5030, a Pacific that was on display in a park in Jackson, Michigan. The plan was to fundraise to move it to the Colebrookdale within the next five years, and then begin an operational restoration on it there. Again, after that announcement, that was about the last I heard of it. I know at one point, some in Jackson, MI were pitching a fit about losing "their engine", even though they've neglected it for decades. Same old story that always pops up anytime a park engine is going to be moved.

And then last year, Colebrookdale announced they were also buying Canadian National 4-6-2 #5288 and moving it from Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum to restore to operation. The #5288 had been purchased from Steamtown by TVRM in 2001 in hopes of converting it to a pseudo-Southern Ps-4, but the champion of that project passed away and it never went any further. The stoker was taken from it to install in Southern #4501 during it's 2011-2014 restoration, but it was otherwise left alone there, and Colebrookdale purchased it last summer and moved it up to PA in June. My bet on this one is that, if they are unable to get GTW #5030, or it's found to need too much work, they have the #5288 instead. They've posted a few photos of it since it arrived but that's about it. 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
2/29/24 11:42 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

That rocking issue you described could be truck hunting. I've seen it happen if the pedestal liner gap is too big. It could need new pedestal liners, or shims. Could also be excessive wear on the side bearing wear plates. Do those units have vertical or yaw dampers?

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
2/29/24 11:46 a.m.

Train related?  Sure, this belongs here...

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/29/24 12:03 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse :

Yeah, the body itself was making a side-to-side rocking motion, but it also felt like the front end was yawing back and forth. It was a gut-wrenching, violent sensation and I was sitting there going "This is either going to spread the rails or flop on it's side and I'm going to feel like a jackass." I got it under control and looked over, expecting a wide-eyed look on the engineer's face to match mine, but he just went "That's what I was talking about, you handled that well." I know they said that NS had run that thing pretty hard and they really wanted to go through the trucks when they got a moment to see what was worn out on them.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/29/24 2:56 p.m.

Reading & Northern has posted some photos of off-season work on their passenger fleet that are pretty interesting.

That's a Taylor truck under one of their old Reading M.U. cars with a roller bearing conversion and brand-new wheels. R&N ended up with a bunch of the old Reading electric self-propelled coaches, gutted of their traction motors, control stands and pantographs, as well as some DL&W M.U. trailers. The Reading cars are possessed of these weird Taylor trucks, with a round opening where the spring pack goes through, which I think were almost exclusive used by Reading on their rolling stock. There were versions without traction motors under cabooses and some passenger cars, but the M.U. versions also had a small pilot on the outer ends.

Also, they are painting the old blue Lehigh Gorge coaches that were used out of Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic, again, made out of more old Reading M.U. cars (see the Taylor trucks and the windows for the engineer at the ends?). Originally, with the #425 and SD50 #426 in blue, they had a bunch of passenger cars also painted in blue. Then a while back, they pivoted towards using dark red paint on all their passenger equipment, including the two GP39RNs, and the blue cars have kind of fallen by the wayside. They've mostly been parked in the yard at Jim Thorpe, only put into use when there is a lot of passenger trains running at once, like when they're running the regular LGSR trains and the bike trains. They've been getting pretty chalky lately, although the red regular coaches aren't looking that much better, but I'm sure they want to get everything in the same paint scheme. The dark red has always seemed an odd choice though. The name is Reading & Northern, they operate Reading trackage, they have diesels in Reading green and yellow, why not paint the cars is the dark green that the Reading used?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/29/24 3:25 p.m.

They've also posted some photos of them working on one of the three RDCs they purchased 2 or 3 years ago. R&N has their original three, one ex-Reading, one ex-Boston & Maine, and one ex-New Haven, that they run the wheels off of. Just about every weekend they're out ferrying passengers around the system, to Jim Thorpe or to Pottsville or to Tamaqua. Then, three came up for sale, two ex-B&O/MARC and one ex-B&M/MBTA, a couple years back, and they grabbed those up, but they haven't used them yet. One has been at Port Clinton the last couple times I've been there, and the other two were stored up at Schuylkill Haven. After retirement they had ended up at TVRM, who wanted to use them on off-peak days instead of a locomotive and from what I heard, they weren't terribly well-received at TVRM from riders. They then went to Western Maryland Scenic, and I'm not sure how much they were ran there, they never even repainted them out of TVRM paint and lettering I know, and then WMSR sold them off. Two are quite nice and in TVRM lettering, reporting marks and maroon paint, one while one is much rougher and still in MBTA paint. I think the MBTA one is doomed to be a parts donor, since I don't see where it ever ran at TVRM or WMSR.

Lifted off the trucks at the wheel shop at Port Clinton. I wonder if they'll leave the painted ends and roof or strip them back to stainless steel. The three that R&N already has are all-stainless, other than the cove above the window being painted dark blue and they have dark blue trucks.

One of the horizontally-mounted Detroit 6-110 engines used to power this. There are two of them, one powering the inboard axle on each truck through a hydraulic transmission and a gear driver. You can see the gearbox and companion flange on the truck to the right. The outer axle on each RDC was unpowered. The Detroit 6-110 is kind of the Achilles heel of the RDCs in the modern era: they aren't terribly clean or powerful and Detroit 6-110s do not have great parts support anymore. There have been some that have been successfully repowered with some sort of pancake Cummins engine, but R&N's all still run the Detroit engines. I also heard that at least one operator thought they'd try installing Detroit 6-71s in an RDC. Turns out that an RDC isn't exactly overpowered with a 6-110 and a 6-71 wasn't even remotely sufficient. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/29/24 4:54 p.m.

Probably the best-looking RDCs, in my opinion at least, were the two that Baltimore & Ohio bought from Santa Fe. The B&O always left the ends of theirs in bare stainless steel with just the small B&O Capitol Building logo on either side of the door. But AT&SF had painted the ends of theirs in red with the yellow crosshair logo. So when they ended up on the B&O, they didn't want to strip the ends back down to bare metal again, so they shot them in this snazzy dark blue and yellow with alternating-color chevrons. Very sharp. Sadly, it didn't catch on to the rest of their Budd cars.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/1/24 12:45 p.m.

A photo of the two RDCs back on the Santa Fe. This is post-1959, because the second RDC has been rebuilt from an RDC-1 to an RDC-2. Both of the ATSF's RDCs were delivered as 85ft, 90-person coaches, but after a nasty wreck in 1959, one of them was converted to an RDC-2, which was a combination baggage and 70-passenger coach configuration. You can see the blanked-off baggage area and side door for loading baggage at the rear.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/1/24 1:01 p.m.

The story of the ATSF RDC wreck remains a weird one. ATSF had put the two-unit set of RDCs into service on their San Diegan route, replacing a pair frquencies using conventional locomotives and passenger cars. The route was a pretty popular one and was often sold-out, even with the RDCs in service. The train left Los Angeles on time and headed towards San Diego. Not long out of Los Angeles Union Station, there was a sharp curve at Redondo Junction that had a speed restriction of just 15mph. The RDCs entered the curve at 69mph and derailed, flopping over on their side. The media soon arrived and within an hour of the wreck, KTLA Channel 5 was broadcasting live from the scene, the first major disaster in the LA area covered on live television. In all 30 people were killed and a further 117 injured. An inquiry was launched into the accident, and the engineer was 61 year old Frank Parrish, who was experienced on the line, but was making only his second round trip running the RDCs. No charges were ever brought against Frank Parrish, who admitted sole responsibility for the accident but claimed to have blacked out before the accident. He did not run a train again and took early retirement from the railroad.

I have found one person who claims that he was told by several greybeard ATSF employees that the day before the wreck, the RDCs had had a serious brake failure the day before and that ATSF corporate lawyers paid a visit to Frank Parrish while he was in his hospital bed and a deal was worked out. He would claim "blacking out," in essence, taking full responsibility for the mishap. Any claims of faulty brakes would be off the table. In exchange for this, the railroad, or other parties, would not pursue criminal negligence legal action against him. He would be the fall guy, they would take care of him and he wouldn't be thrown to the wolves. After all what would Frank Parrish's chances for success have been if he had tried to argue a legal case against a giant corporation equipped with an army of lawyers and paid expert witnesses? He was also up against a very hostile city mayor and prosecutor who were showboating for televised publicity, which was a relatively new phenomenon at the time. Is it true? Who knows? Most of the people involved are now dead, so there's no way to know, but it isn't that far out of the realm of possibility.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/1/24 4:55 p.m.

Southern Pacific's sole RDC, the #10, with big SP-style train number boards grafted onto the roof. A wreck during it's career resulted in SP "single-ending" it and removing the control stand at one end and making that vestibule a small baggage compartment.

ScottyB
ScottyB HalfDork
3/1/24 7:52 p.m.

just dropping in to say i check this thread like every week.  i'm so glad its still going, genuinely look forward to reading more about all these storied machines.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 11:36 a.m.
NickD said:

Some excitement out in Oklahoma; the FRA has ordered an emergency shutdown of the Blackwell Northern Gateway Railway. The BNGR is a shortline which operates 35.26 miles of ex-ATSF trackage between Blackwell, OK and Hunnewell, KS.  New ownership and management took over in October 2023. 

The FRA began an investigation when there were two separate two derailments which involved unqualified individuals operating locomotives at the railroad, and then, just prior to the shutdown order there was an incident involving a hi-rail truck on January 28th that nearly collided with a vehicle at an unprotected grade crossing. The FRA has since found a long list of violations at the railroad and per the FRA order "The FRA has found that BNGR is operating with a complete disregard for the safety of the public and has not taken corrective action to resolve safety issues identified by FRA as posing imminent risks of injury or death." Some pretty damning accusations.

  • BNGR has, in its short time under current ownership, operated locomotives not safe for use under federal law. Some of them were over two years overdue for inspection.
  • BNGR allowed locomotives to be operated by persons not properly qualified as engineers in accordance with FRA regulations, and failed to qualify any engineers or conductors under any qualification program in accordance with FRA regulations
  • BNGR has maintained no records of track safety inspections, no records of employees designated and qualified to perform track inspections.
  • BNGR has no records that roadway workers have been trained to use roadway maintenance machines or perform safety-essential functions in accordance with FRA regulations
  • BNGR has failed to report, at a minimum, the two derailments that FRA has discovered through its investigation. In both derailments, the individual operating the derailed train was not properly qualified as an engineer, including at least one instance when the train’s locomotive was also several years past its required periodic inspection
  • There is evidence that persons not 4 employed by the railroad and with no qualification under FRA regulations were allowed to operate locomotives.
  • BNGR employees have been directed by BNGR ownership to provide FRA false information, including a false engineer certification card and false hours of service records.
  • FRA has obtained substantial evidence that the most senior person on location at the BNGR, a co-owner of the railroad, has personally operated locomotives and trains on the BNGR line without the required training or qualification, leading to derailments, and has provided false information to FRA

On January 17, 2024, the FRA found no program for track inspection in compliance with FRA safety regulations and no inspection records for any month from the time the BNGR came under current ownership (October through December 2023). Following these findings, the BNGR management was informed by the FRA that all track over which BNGR operates would be taken out of service. Under FRA rules, any movements on track that is out of service for repairs must be authorized by a qualified person and be made only to facilitate repairs.

On Sunday, January 28, 2024, witnesses reported that a hi-rail vehicle nearly collided with a car at a highway-rail grade crossing over the BNGR line near Blackwell, Oklahoma. The grade crossing signal system at the highway-rail grade crossing was not activated, no flag protection of the intersection was provided, and the hi-rail vehicle reportedly made no effort to stop and yield the right-of-way to vehicular traffic at the crossing. As the FRA finding put it "this incident demonstrates a cascade of failures to protect life and safety by BNGR".

My guess is, the BNGR's goose is cooked. Someone is likely seeing jail time, and I imagine that owners of the line, Blackwell Industrial Authority and Oklahoma DOT, will probably be soliciting for a new operator. Amazing how badly this Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad botched things this badly. Like, Gettysburg Railroad levels of bad.

Well, the new Rock Island Railroad has petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to take over this trackage after the FRA shut down the Blackwell Northern Gateway. It was announced today that the STB had agreed to this, so now the new Rock Island continues it's growth, expanding into Oklahoma, to go with their trackage in Mississippi and Kansas. Plus their owner, Robert J. Riley, was recently named the new Chief Operating Officer of Louisiana Steam Train Association in Jefferson, Louisiana. It's really odd to see this weird, sprawling rebirth of the Rock Island name.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 12:07 p.m.

While most of the Rock Island power is in the later "bankruptcy blue" paint, which is still a very neat, almost modern, paint scheme, they do have a C42-9 in the late red and yellow livery. What's a C42-9? Well, GE ended up uprating their 4000hp 6-axle C40-8s to 4135hp late in the production run, and some customers also applied the same upgrades. While GE still called them C40-8s, some railroads internally referred to them as C41-8s or C42-8s. C&NW was the recipient of one of those factory C41-8s, which then went to UP, and then was eventually sold to Canadian National. CN used the C42 nomenclature, and then later rebuilt the electrical system to Dash-9 standards, creating a "C42-9".

It does create an interesting phantom locomotive from an alternate timeline. What if the Rock Island hadn't been sabotaged by investors and stabbed in the back by unions and the federal government and survived long enough to buy Dash-8s?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 12:14 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 12:16 p.m.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
3/4/24 1:45 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Reminds me of this:

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 2:00 p.m.

Robert Riley, owner of the new Rock Island, alongside GP38 #4310. The original Rock Island had a GP38-2 that was #4310, painted in "Bankruptcy Blue" and wore the name American Ralfan. That GP38-2 was bought by the Missouri Pacific after the Rock Island liquidated in '81, then went to Union Pacific a year later when the UP and MP merged, and then ended up a GMTX leaser unit. It was last spotted at the Port Terminal of Houston Railroad Association. This is not the same unit, and was originally built as a Southern regular GP38 with a high hood,  but also ended up as a GMTX leaser and then was working on ex-Rock Island rails for the Iowa Interstate before being purchased by Robert Riley for his new railroad in 2017.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
3/4/24 2:50 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Interesting they appear to have painted the draft gear behind the coupler.  I've always seen those left bare metal, the rationale being that paint hides cracks.  Like the coupler head, and wheels, they're supposed to be bare metal and rust naturally.  

I like those uncoupling levers; they allow the operator to uncouple either from the ground or on the switcher steps.  This being a "GP" unit, it could be used for switcher service, so this comes in handy.  

I don't see the required FRA conspicuosity tape along the sides.  Also wonder about the grab irons all being painted body color.  I wonder if there isn't a requirement for them to be bright orange or something...

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 3:24 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse :

I suppose white paint would be less likely to obscure cracks than black or dark paint colors. Kind of like how racecars usually have the floor pans and engine bays painted white or light gray to spot cracks forming.

Grab irons being a different color is probably nice for the worker, but CSX and UP have them painted yellow on the fronts of their Spartan cab EMD products, which are also painted yellow.

FRA does allow yellow or white conspicuity tape on freight equipment, and while it's not visible in this photo, you can see white tape, barely, in this evening photo, especially towards the rear of the unit. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/4/24 4:30 p.m.

What interesting is why Robert Riley chose the Rock Island name. He had been an engineer for UP and CN, and then decided to strike out on his own and picked up a couple different disconnected switching contracts. He needed a name for his company and got looking through the various names of fallen flags and discovered that when the Rock Island was liquidated in 1981, no one had bought the rights to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific name. The corporate entity had lived on, becoming Chicago Pacific Corp. and using the money from the liquidation sale to buy into non-rail ventures, but they hadn't kept the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific name. So Robert Riley chose the CRI&P name for his railroad and got the original paint schemes as well, since they were trademarks of the name. Originally, when they got the big C42-9, they were going to paint it Bankruptcy Blue as well, but then decided to use the late red and yellow with white speed lettering to maintain the trademark.

 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/4/24 10:15 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I need to find time to head over to Gulfport & see if they have any motive power parked on their Ship Island industrial spur. 

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