Friday, July 6, 2012

alpha and omega

One of the favorite things I got to do at Conrail, was keep the new locomotive specs.  I had to make sure the specs contained the proper description of the locomotive including options and additions needed for each model each year.  It also included communicating with the locomotive builders and some minor negotiating on details.  But, the best part of the job was getting to visit the builders, particularly when the first production sample was ready.

There were lots of changes in 1990 when Conrail started taking delivery of new, GE "wide cabs".  I went to Erie to witness some noise level testing in April of that year and got get a good look the first unit.

C40-8W number 6050.  Here it is sitting on the East Erie Commercial  prior to delivery.  About the only thing missing here is the white sill stripe on the anticlimber.  It'll get that before final delivery.  

Fast forward.  Conrail took delivery on 180 of these beasts plus another handful lettered for LMS - a leasing company that Conrail was part owner of.  Then came the aborted merger with CSX and the ripping apart by CSX and NS.  NS got their 60% and slowly, the blue was painted into black. Only a few remained in blue at the start of 2012.  The end was near.

But, then NS announce their heritage locomotive project.  Twenty locomotives to be painted in NS's heritage road paint schemes.  The Conrail unit was to be the first - at Junaita Locomotive Shop where a good number of the 180+ had been painted - a GE wide cab.

So,  here it is.  The very last GE "wide cab" locomotive to get painted in a Conrail Scheme seen here in July 2012. 
At NC Transportation Museum

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Colorful Locomotives and a Birthday Party, Part 2

"This is better than any fireworks I've ever seen"  -Wick Moorman 7/3/2012

I was there.  He was right.

It was sunny and hot.  Mid 90's.  It was humid. Dew point in upper 60s.  It was crowded.  Several thousand.  People were cowering in whatever shade they could find.  They were lined up at the drinking fountains refilling water bottles.  They were passing out right and left and being hauled out by the very busy EMTs.  But, those are just details....

It was terrific!

NS and the museum folk put on quite a show.  First up, they took each locomotive for a spin on the turntable, sort of like models on a runway.  People were lined up 3 and 4 deep around the rim of the turntable.  There was a viewing platform and some bleachers available, but most people opted for an up-front view.

The crowd at the pit Tuesday morning.

Making sure the wheels stay where they are supposed to...

Lackawanna gets her turn

Erie going for a spin

All lined up for the speeches to begin

Brainy, Wick and North Carolina Dept of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle....and half of Jim Wrinn of Trains Magazine

The lighting wasn't great for pictures at the turntable, but there was narration describing some of history, effort and nuances of each railroad and it's paint scheme.

New York Central freight black lightning stripes

Lehigh Valley with chevron striping on the nose

Sun-lit noses and sweaty railfans

My sentimental favorite heritage unit rolling toward the turntable.

The long hood end of the N&W unit.  In a "what-if" world, would this have been the F end?
Following the speeches, they started a parade to the south in an area the named "Heritage Hill".  They did their best to keep the locomotives aimed the right way relative to the sun.

First came the Southern family.
Southern "Cresecent" green

Sharp looking Central of Georgia

The obscure, original Norfolk Southern

The even more obscure Interstate

Southern traditional black on Savannah and Atlanta
The museum had spotted some of their collection in the area making for some interesting comparison shots.

Southern E8

Norfolk Southern Baldwin AS616

Southern FP7

Southern GP30

Heritage unit with E8

Wabash Heritage next to Norfolk Southern Baldwin
After the sun swung around a bit, they continued with the N&W family.

N&W in "C&O merger" blue

The New York, Chicago and St. Louis...

known as the "Nickel Plate"

Virginian in the Trainmaster scheme

Very sharp looking Wabash

The "you can't miss it" Illinois Terminal.  Where's the trolley pole go?

Red shadows on capital letters!

All lined up
And, finally after the sun move around a bit more, the Conrail Family.
Classic Conrail paint scheme

PRR 5 strip Tuscan Red with BP-20 inspired keystones

Keystone in circle logo

PC wearing the somewhat controversial Brunswick Green paint

Erie passenger scheme

Sharp looking Lackawanna paint


Reading with the "Bee Line" slogan

Lehigh Valley in Cornell Red

Monongahela in "Super 7" gray scheme
There was a lot of opportunity to get up close to the locomotives...although if you got TOO close or stayed TOO long, you'd get hoots and hollers from guys trying to take pictures!

1968 revisited?

Looks like it could be Erie in 1990!

Rolling off the turntable, headed for Heritage Hill.

Conrail with some predecessors

NYC and PRR - too close for comfort?

Erie - Lackawanna

Could be Bethlehem?
The Anthracite Roads
There was plenty of other stuff to look at, too.The museum's regular collection was on display in the roundhouse.  There were tables with cool stuff for sale.  I bought a Conrail T shirt.  NS was giving away a free book, "Eat Steel.  Spit Rivets."  The railroad historical societies all had booths and Amtrak showed up with some equipment you could tour including a diner, sleeper and dome car.
One of Amtrak's five heritage locomotives

The only Viewliner Diner
After nine sweaty hours, two liters of water and a quart of Gatorade, I had seen and done enough.  It was time to call it a day.  What next?  Maybe I'll try to catch one of these heritage locomotives out on the road, doing some real work.

But, for now, I think I'll stay inside and enjoy these pictures in the cool for a while!