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NRHS Bulletin

Spring 2010


PRESIDENT --------------------------------------------------------------- Gregory P. Molloy, 634 Flagstaff Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45215 SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT --------------------------------------- Barry O. Smith, 2730 Fillmore Dr., Chambersburg, PA 17201-8823 VICE PRESIDENT ---------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey S. Smith, 2375 S. Whittmore St., Furlong, PA 18925-1549 VICE PRESIDENT-PUBLIC RELATIONS -------------------------------Jerry Hardwich, 15827 Acorn Circle, Tavares, FL 32778-9448 SECRETARY ----------------------------------Joseph C. Maloney, Jr.,3013 Heritage Landing Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185-8113 TREASURER ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard M. Billings, 1412 12th Street, Moline, IL 61265 COMPTROLLER ----------------------------------------------- Robert M. Heavenrich, Jr., 3565 Chatham Way, Ann Arbor, MI 48105 EDITOR ---------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey S. Smith, 2375 S. Whittmore St., Furlong, PA 18925-1549 HISTORIAN ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Donald F. Bishop II, P.O. Box D, Hobart, NY 13788 GENERAL COUNSEL ----------------------------------- John K. Fiorilla, 8000 Midlantic Drive, Suite 300, Mount Laurel, N.J. 08054


Front cover: Santa Fe 652 is on the Tehachapi line heading east near Keene, California on March 10, 2002. The Tehachapi Loop has been and remains one of the most popular attractions in the railroading world. Howard Ande photo

APPALACHIAN ------------------------------------------------------------------ Carl S. Jensen, 186 Post Oak Drive, Roanoke, VA 24019 CENTRAL --------------------------------------------------------------------- Al Weber, 18 Mill Spring Ct., Saint Peters, MO 63376-0466 COASTAL PLAIN ---------------------------------------------Arthur E. Giardino, 3906 Waterway Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451-2554 EASTERN ----------------------------------------------------------------------- John D. Sweigart, 602 Clair Street, Shillington, PA 19607 GREAT LAKES --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VACANT METROPOLITAN --------------------------------------------------------------- Walter E. Zullig, Jr., 77 Mystic Drive, Ossining, NY 10562 MID-ATLANTIC --------------------------------------------------------- Ralph Robert Bitzer, 7617 Woodbine Drive, Laurel, MD 20707 MOUNTAIN-PLAINS ----------------------------------------- Thomas R. Moss, 2495 South Quebec Street, #16, Denver, CO 80231 NEW ENGLAND ----------------------------------------------------------------- William E. Wood, 1625 North Street, Suffield, CT 06078 NORTHEAST -------------------------------------------------------------------------- David G. Flinn, 866 Ridge Road, Lansing, NY 14882 NORTHWEST ----------------------------------------------------------------- Edward M. Berntsen, PO Box 404, Gig Harbor, WA 98335 OHIO VALLEY ---------------------------------------------------------------- Wesley F. Ross, 1749 Bahama Road, Lexington, KY 40509 PACIFIC -------------------------------------------------------------------- Edward F. Graham, 316 Innisfree Circle, Daly City, CA 94015 SOUTH CENTRAL ------------------------------------------------------------------- Larry Dyer, 140 Marion Blvd., Fayetteville, GA 30214 SOUTHWEST ------------------------------------------------------------ Robert Terhune, 2605 Spring Lane #4, Austin TX 78703-1744 SUNSHINE --------------------------------------------------------------------------- S. J. Boldrick, PO Box 011349, Miami, FL 33101-1349

DIRECTORS OF MEMBERSHIP SERVICES ALCO HISTORIC PHOTOS -------------------------------------------------- Edward A. Fernau, P.O. Box 655, Schenectady, NY 12301 CHAPTER DEVELOPMENT -------------------------------------------------- Donald Maxwell, PO Box 1252, Ashland, KY 41105-1252 CONVENTIONS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------V A C A N T EMBLEM SALES --------------------------------------------------- David Baniewicz, 408 Rugely Rd., Western Springs, IL 60558-1957 FINANCE ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VACANT HISTORIC PLAQUE COMMITTEE ----------------------------------- Kenton H. Forrest, 10341 W. 12th Place, Lakewood, CO 80215 HISTORIC RAILWAY STRUCTURES SURVEY ---------------------- Richard B. Shulby, 11017 Spice Hollow Court, Charlotte, NC 28277 INTERNET SERVICES ---------------------------------- James W. Lilly, 100 N. 20th Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1443 MEDIA SERVICES --------------------------------------- Mitchell E. Dakelman, 334 South Third Avenue, Highland Park, NJ 08904 MEMBERSHIP AWARDS ------------------ Joseph C. Maloney, Jr.,3013 Heritage Landing Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185-8113 MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ----------------------------------------Jerry Hardwich, 15827 Acorn Circle, Tavares, FL 32778-9448 MEMBERSHIP RECORDS --------------------------------------------------- Bob Ernst, 5246 S. Newland Ave., Chicago, IL 60638-1125 OPERATION LIFESAVER ------------------------------------------------------- Wesley F. Ross, 1749 Bahama Rd., Lexington, KY 40509 RAILWAY HERITAGE GRANTS ------------------------------------- Stephen L. Wasby, 85 Limerick Way, Eastham MA 02642-2686 RAILCAMP---------------------------------------------------------- Barry O. Smith, 2730 Fillmore Dr., Chambersburg, PA 17201-8823

Back cover: The Tehachapi Loop features such a tight curve, trains often cross over their own tail in the tunnel below. On March 11, 2008 DPU locomotives on a northbound BNSF train are still at the top of the hill as the beginning of the train has already entered the tunnel mouth. Howard Ande photo


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

THE NATIONAL RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY was founded in 1935 and incorporated in Maryland in 1937. It is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization for historical and educational purposes. There are five classes of membership: At-Large, Chapter, Student, Youth and Family. Chapter members are those who affiliate with a local chapter. At-Large members are those who do not live near a chapter or who do not care to affiliate with a local unit. Student members are age 13 to 18 and youth members are under 12 years of age. For information on joining the Society, please contact the National office (address and telephone number listed above). National dues are $37.00 per year for At-Large, $36.00 per year for Chapter members, $16 per year for students and $5 per year for youth members. Chapter dues are in addition to National dues. Family memberships are $5.00 per year for each family member, pursuant to the By-Laws. Family members have the right to hold national office but do not receive the Bulletin. The purpose of this class of membership is to encourage families to participate in the Society’s work. NRHS Bulletin (ISSN 1940-3615) is published five times a year by The National Railway Historical Society. Members are encouraged to notify NRHS Membership Records, 100 N. 20th Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19103-1462 of changes in address by returning the old address portion of a Bulletin envelope together with the new address (printed or typed), six weeks prior to moving. The Bulletin is mailed to members under a bulk mail permit and such mail is not ordinarily forwarded. Manuscripts are always welcome, preferably not longer than 10,000 words, double spaced, on one side of a paper. Clear, glossy photos to illustrate articles and of action and historical subjects are requested. Articles in this magazine do not express the official NRHS position on any subject unless specifically designated as such. © Copyright 2010 by the National Railway Historical Society.

NRHS Bulletin

Bulletin Staff

Editor • Jeffrey S. Smith White River Productions Layout and Editing • Ian Scott • Steve Jessup • Kevin EuDaly Associate Editors • Charles Williams Book Review Editor • Rodney Blystone Staff Photographer • Alex Mayes Mystery Photo Editor • Doug Scott

Volume 75, Spring 2010

Tehachapi in the 21st Century 4 by Howard Ande The FL9 Dual-Mode Locomotive Story by Robert A LaMay


Book Reviews


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Right: On March 19, 2004 BNSF 1072 roars out of Tunnel 5 near Cliff, California on the rail line over the Tehachapi Mountains. One of 12 tunnels remaining of the original 18, Tunnel 5 suffered damage in the 1952 earthquake but was repaired and reopened. Howard Ande photo Contents


ehachapi T

IN THE 21ST CENTURY byHowardAnde


NRHS Bulletin, Fall 2009

These pages: A westbound BNSF intermodal train breaks the early morning stillness at Tehachapi, California on March 14, 2002.

Tehachapi in the 21st Century



Reading the plaques on two monuments by the side of WoodfordTehachapi Road that overlook Tehachapi Loop, we receive a good capsule history of the construction of the rail line over the Tehachapi Mountains. The first monument on the left proclaims the Tehachapi Pass railroad line as a “National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.” The bronze plaque reads:

Constructed 1874–1876. Commemorated October 1998. In front of you is the world famous Tehachapi Loop that is about halfway upgrade to the Tehachapi Pass. This steep line averages 2.2 percent in gradient in its 28 miles of length. This feat of civil engineering genius was the crowning achievement of civil engineer William Hood of the Southern Pacific Railway Company and is one 6

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

of the seven wonders of the railroad world. The Tehachapi Pass Railroad Line was cut through solid and decomposed granite by up to 3,000 Chinese laborers from Canton China. They used picks, shovels, horse-drawn carts and blasting powder. Climbing out of the San Joaquin Valley and through the Tehachapi Mountains, the line had 18 tunnels, 10 bridges, and numerous water towers for the old steam locomotives and was completed in less than 2 years time under the leadership of civil engineer J.B. Harris, Chief of Construction — a remarkable feat. The line was part of the last and final link of the first railroad line connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles and was a primary factor in the early growth of the City of Los Angeles and the State of California.

Above: A very shiny BNSF GEVO 7667 adds a bright splash to a rather limited color palette on an otherwise varied consist on this eastbound mixed freight approaching Woodford, California on March 14, 2005.

Essentially unchanged, this single tracked line is still in constant use today, 134 years after its completion, handling an average of 36 freight trains each day, attesting to the superior job of both engineering and construction done by the two civil engineers and the Chinese laborers. This plaque is dedicated to them. History & Heritage Committee Los Angeles Section and Southern San Joaquin Branch American Society of Civil Engineers

Above: A colorful collection of mid-train helpers on BNSF 4782 is assisting eastbound near Caliente, California on March 19, 2002. Left: This plaque adorns the monument overlooking the Tehachapi Loop to honor the engineering and construction feat achieved by the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1874–76.

The second monument plaque reads: California Historical Landmark TEHACHAPI LOOP From this spot may be seen a portion of the worldrenowned “loop” that was completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood. In gaining elevation around [the] central hill of the loop, a 4,000-foot train crosses 77 feet above its rear cars in [the] tunnel below. DEDICATED October 25, 1953 Marker placed by Kern County Historical Society Bakersfield Parlor No. 42 N.S.G.W. El Tejon Parlor No. 339 N.G.D.W. Kern County Museum Southern Pacific Railroad State Registered Landmark No. 508 Tehachapi in the 21st Century


Above: The glow of an approaching westbound illuminates the cantilever signal bridge on the Union Pacific line at Sandcut, California late in the evening on March 20, 2004.

These two dedications bear out an almost reverence bestowed upon the railroad line over the Tehachapi Mountains. The loop is indeed famous worldwide as rail enthusiasts from around the globe rub elbows with American enthusiasts especially in the area around the loop itself. Tehachapi! Few names in railroading can evoke the images that this single word does. It represents the name of the tortuous climb over the mountains that reaches a maximum of around 2.5 percent in gradient. An eastbound train departing Bakersfield west of the mountains will encounter a long straight ascending “ramp� of track until it reaches the first curve at Sandcut, where a short descending grade to Bena will be encountered. At Sandcut trains pass under one 8

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

of two remaining cantilever signal bridges (the other is in downtown Tehachapi) left on the entire pass. This will be the last downhill an eastbound train will enjoy until the summit of the pass is crested east of the town of Tehachapi down toward Monolith where a huge cement plant is located. A twisting grade, not as severe as on the western slope of the pass, will be negotiated down to the town of Mojave. Mojave is sort of an oasis for auto and semi truck drivers in the desert at the eastern edge of the mountains. Its main drag parallels the track and Union Pacific yard located on the north side of the thoroughfare whose south side is lined with motels, restaurants, gas stations and various other businesses. A highway bypass was built around Mojave this decade but a good amount of traffic still runs through town creating the same feel that many towns on old Route 66 have. The Mojave Air and Space Port (no, this isn’t a typographical error) is located on the

edge of town as well. The mysterious world of private and rebel aerospace has a huge presence in the hangars and buildings scattered around the property. Some recent test attempts at conquering the frontier of space by private entrepreneurs have also taken place there. The town is also the site where a large number of surplus commercial and other airliners are stored and scrapped. Mojave is where the BNSF former Santa Fe line leaves the Union Pacific and strikes out toward Barstow across the desert. The Santa Fe Railway through subsidiary Santa Fe Pacific Railroad enjoyed traffic rights over the pass that were granted in January 1899. Of course, BNSF utilizes those same rights over Tehachapi at present. The trackage rights were granted to avoid having the Santa Fe construct Facing page: Northbound BNSF 4169 is just emerging from Tunnel 14 near Marcel, Calfornia on March 10, 2008.

Tehachapi in the 21st Century


Above: On March 15, 2005 UP 5731 bursts out of the eastern end of Tunnel 1 near Caliente, California.

a competing right of way. This gave the Santa Fe access to the Central Valley of California and the San Francisco Bay area. The spectacular nature of the western slope of the Tehachapi grade in regard to its construction and appearance can be attributed to economics. The railroad construction was engineered by William Hood to follow the contours of the topography over the mountains. This philosophy of construction was more economical than fills and cuts, although some of those were unavoidable. One of the largest fills on the pass other than at the Tehachapi Loop itself is located between Tunnels 1 and 2 between Caliente and Bealville. The result of this type of cheaper construction method was a twisting right of way often snaking through canyons and clinging to hillsides. However, tunnels were needed at some loca10

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

tions. Twelve remain of the 18 original, rather short tunnels of varying length that aid in the climb up the grade. Tunnels are numbered one to seventeen, the original westernmost tunnel near Ilmon was daylighted long ago into a large curving cut and isn’t included in the present day numbering. Tunnel 2, located near the north (west) end of Bealville siding, is the shortest at 219 feet. Tunnel 5 is the longest at 1,175 feet and is located on the hillside railroad south of Bealville. The remains of Tunnel 4 are still visible next to the current right of way. This tunnel was destroyed in the 1952 earthquake. Tunnel 5 was also closed by the earthquake but was rebuilt. The roadbed of the shoofly around the damaged tunnel is a tight curve in front of the hillside through which the tunnel bores and is used as a railroad access road today. The Tehachapi grade is a segment of the Union Pacific Railroad Mojave Subdivision. This sinewy single-track railroad with numerous

passing sidings has always provided a visual and sensory treat to observers. The several dozen or so freight trains that cross the mountains on a typical day are greatly restricted in speed due to the grades and curvature. The locomotives on these trains are almost always in Run 8 uphill or dynamic braking heading downgrade as the wheel flanges of the trailing consist of cars squeal around curves. Depending on traffic patterns, this is the busiest single-track railroad in the United States. As mentioned in the descriptions inscribed on the monument plaques discussed earlier, Tehachapi Loop is the engineering highlight of the crossing of these mountains. Located about eight miles west of the town of Tehachapi, the loop was needed as the railroad required a rapid gain of elevation in a short distance at a relatively closed-in area of the mountains. The loop itself is double track and is actually a siding named Walong. The dimensions of the loop are 3,799 feet in length with an

approximate diameter of about 1,210 feet — a fairly tight curve to gain 77 feet of elevation. Most freights negotiating the loop will cross over or under themselves as today’s trains running over the pass are typically a mile or more in length. In the approximate 57 air miles that separate Bakersfield from Mojave, the railroad passes through several different mini climates due to elevation and the effects of the mountains. Changes in vegetation and landscape also accompany the ascent. Heading east from Bakersfield, trains pass through heavily irrigated citrus groves on mostly tangent track. Several miles after Sandcut and east of Bena, site of an abandoned corrugated steel-clad cattle slaughterhouse, the railroad enters a rugged and rocky canyon carved out by Caliente Creek. The railroad utilizes this canyon for the climb to the town of Caliente, a small hamlet that in the summer months lives up to its Spanish name. At Caliente the railroad enters the area of the grade that is ranch and cattle country in the Tehachapi foothills. This is mostly pasture land with green Left: UP 6230 and 8623 lead a work equipment tram at Caliente, California on March 16, 2002. Below: A UP westbound is crossing the bridge near Woodford, California behind GE C44AC-CTEs 5784 and 5769 on March 20, 2004.

Tehachapi in the 21st Century


Left: Meet the “earthworm,” successor to the “Oil Cans” that operated from 1983 to 1997. Unit grain trains are some of the heaviest consists to run through Tehachapi. This westbound BNSF “worm” is about to go underground at Tunnel 2 near Caliente, California on March 15, 2002. Below: The Swift RoadRailer was another uniform consist that graced the Tehachapi slopes. Seen here on March 12, 2000, the train is exiting the tunnel at West Marcel, California.

grass and wild flowers in early spring that quickly becomes golden brown as spring progresses toward summer. This attractive open landscape dotted with scrubby oak trees continues until Cliff, located literally above Bealville on the mountainside. After Cliff the railroad enters oak- and pine-wooded, often rocky-looking, landscapes as it climbs through the 2,735 feet of elevation between Caliente and the summit of the grade (4,000 feet) at the town of Tehachapi where very little moisture falls from the sky. East of the summit the terrain becomes distinctly desert in appearance and the railroad and highway appear to be overseen by scores of huge wind turbines that take advantage of the airflow over the pass to generate electricity.

THEOILCANS“REPLACEMENT” The “Oil Cans” as the Southern Pacific symbol train BKDOU was known as operated from Saco, California just 12

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

north of Bakersfield to Dolores, California from 1983 to October 1997. The train was one of the heaviest operated over the mountain usually consisting of about 72 cars loaded with crude oil with mid-train helpers. The train sometimes ran with another block of 12 cars for a total of 84 cars, each car weighing about 127 tons. A reasonable facsimile of the “Oil Cans” may possibly return to the Tehachapis on a regular basis with the ethanol revolution. Unit ethanol trains that are a staple in other areas of the country, including other rail lines in California, could ply the rails over the pass on a regular basis as the ethanol boom expands. The occasional large block of black tank cars containing such things as corn syrup are a reminder of the days of the “Cans.” The trains that most closely resemble the operation of the “Oil Cans” these days are the unit grain trains BNSF regularly runs over Tehachapi. In their own right they are just as spectacular as the “Cans.” Many of these trains consist entirely of BNSF’s boxcar red grain covered hoppers that carry 110–115 tons of Left: The “Oil Cans” live again! Well, not quite; this eastbound BNSF train is hauling corn syrup, not oil cars through Tunnel 2 on March 15, 2001. Below: These BNSF articulated autoracks are approaching Tunnel 2 near Caliente, California on March 12, 2001.

Tehachapi in the 21st Century


Above: BN 7877 is eastbound with four other units on a mixed freight approaching Tunnel 2 on March 11, 2001. RIght: C&NW 8637 exits Tunnel 2 heading east near Bealville, California on March 19, 2002.

grain each, totaling out around 16,000 tons. These trains consist of around 110 cars with mid-train and rear-end DPUs (Distributed Power Units). Because boxcar red is really more of a brown color, these trains of solid BNSF grain hoppers are sometimes nicknamed “earthworms.” Watching one of these monster grain trains wind down through the curves of the west slope of Tehachapi confirms the nickname is appropriate. These trains are dramatic to watch as they are limited in speed and are usually enveloped in a haze of brake shoe smoke. In the years to come, a solid prediction would be that an increased number of these unit grain trains will cross the Tehachapi Mountains. BNSF is loading more of these so called “shuttle” trains from loop track-equipped grain cooperatives throughout the Midwest. The parallel between loading a coal train on a loop track at a mine and one of these shuttle trains at a huge grain elevator complex is remarkably similar. The economies of loading one large train at one site are obvious over assembling parts of a unit grain train from several smaller elevators. The Tehachapi Mountains have also witnessed other fairly unique types of trains. One of these was the 14

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

Above: CSX 5370 is heading north on foreign rails near Bealville, California on March 11, 2007. Left: BNSF 5414 leads an eastbound “baretable” train of empty intermodal well cars near Caliente, California on March 21, 2004.

balance of more loaded containers and trailers traveling east. Therefore some units must return west empty. Filling some of these containers for “backhaul” business is a constant challenge for railroad sales people.


Swift RoadRailer train that consisted of special Swift Trucking Company highway trailers mounted on a bogey railroad truck system. These trains ran over Tehachapi until August 2004. While not unusual in the new century, but certainly a product of the intermodal train revolution that has come about only in the past few decades, are the so called “baretable” trains. These trains consist of very long strings of empty intermodal flat

or well cars. Baretable trains make up to several daily appearances over Tehachapi to compensate for the somewhat inexact science of placing intermodal equipment. On the other hand, baretable movements may be viewed as strategic movement to reposition intermodal equipment at port facilities for the next loaded container ship to utilize. Incidentally, many container trains moving westbound can consist of empty containers because of the unequal

In the diesel powered train decades of the twentieth century at Tehachapi Pass, one could take for granted that a visit to the Tehachapi Loop would yield trains pulled by locomotives of owner Southern Pacific. Tenant Santa Fe trains also held a strong presence. This was true up until the middle of the 1990s. At that time a shake up in the railroad world that resembled the 1952 earthquake that shut down the SP over Tehachapi started to occur. In 1996 the Southern Pacific merged with the Union Pacific Railroad. The scarlet and gray locomotives of SP Tehachapi in the 21st Century


rapidly started to mingle with UP armour yellow and gray and former Chicago & Northwestern gold and dark green to change the appearance of the motive power on trains operating over the pass. A trip to Tehachapi at present will still see trains with a stray CNW- or SPpainted unit mixed into the power consist although that is becoming increasingly less common as these older units are repainted at the time of major overhauls or retired. The Santa Fe experienced a similar metamorphosis with the formation of the BNSF Railway on December 31, 1996. BNSF trains very rapidly took on a rainbow appearance with the yellow and dark blue Santa Fe locomotives and red, yellow and silver warbonnet SF diesels mingling with the wide variety of Burlington Northern Railroad paint schemes. The new BNSF orange and dark green sprinkled in made for some wildly colorful motive power consists against the spring green or golden brown of the Tehachapi meadows and hillsides. As with the armour yellow Union Pacific trains, the colors of the BNSF trains have gradually become dominated by some form of the three major orange and green “Heritage” BNSF paint schemes. As has also been the case for many years, run through or foreign power from other railroads is very common on both BNSF and UP trains. Some of these locomotives are paying back “horsepower hours” for UP and BNSF locomotives that have ventured off home rails. NS and CSX power is a very common sight in sunny California. In the beginning of the new century locomotive variety over the Tehachapis was much more interesting than it is now. In the years right after the Y2K hype fizzled, older models of locomotives from both General Electric and EMD were common. Arguably the most successful locomotive model ever, the EMD SD40-2 was a very common sight on any train over the mountain. As recently as a couple of years ago, they were the sole power on some BNSF trains or would be sprinkled in with the latest models of both builders on 16

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

both railroads. This author also had a nice surprise in March 2008 when he witnessed a blue and yellow GP30 tucked in between a couple of Dash9s and a GP60m on a high priority BNSF stack train dominated by J.B. Hunt containers. Alas, the current economic recession and subsequent downturn in rail traffic has sidelined many of the older models of locomotives such as SD40-2s and General Electric Dash8 models that were very common a few years ago. Even work trains that saw 1970s-era former SP and Rio Grande EMD “Tunnel Motors” a few years ago have “newer” models for power as the older units have been put into storage or are off the property. Trains made up on both railroads now may be led by pure sets of the latest models of locomotives such as GE’s GEVO and AC4400 units and EMD’s SD70M2 and SD70ACe units. A “typical” BNSF train these days can be a three unit set of GE Dash-9 locomotives

decked out in the latest BNSF RY “Heritage” scheme followed by a consist of colorful Asian shipping containers. In the 133 years that the line has been operating over the Tehachapis, changes in technology have made the task of lifting trains over the grade easier, but not easy by any means. Larger, more efficient and powerful locomotives have made the number of units needed on a train smaller. Union Pacific determines how many locomotives it places on a train by using a formula called Tons per Equivalent Powered Axle or T/EPA. UP rates the west slope of Tehachapi at 188 T/EPA. BNSF uses a horsepower per ton formula based on a particular train’s transportation service plan. This plan is based on the route of the train taking into account the ruling grades encountered and the type or priority of a particular train. A high priority intermodal train for example will receive a higher horsepower per ton

Above: BNSF 4994 leads a mixed consist eastbound through a rare spring snow on the Tehachapi Loop near Walong, California on March 18, 2002. Left: SP 9813 is eastbound near Keene, California on March 15, 2000.

ratio than a drag freight of mostly empty cars. Helper locomotives have always been a staple on Tehachapi. In the first couple of years of the new century, manned helper sets of locomotives still assisted some

trains. These manned helper sets would return as a light power move back to Bakersfield. However, DPU locomotives are now used on heavy trains over the mountain. They offer a huge economic advantage over the

manned helper locomotives of the past in not needing a crew because they are controlled remotely by the train’s engineer from his seat in the lead locomotive of the train. The DPU technology also helps with train capacity over the mountain because dispatchers have no light helper locomotive moves to contend with. The DPUs simply run with the train from terminal to terminal. They can be isolated when their horsepower is not needed going up a grade while running in flat territory. The general look of the railroad over the Tehachapi mountains remains unchanged from when it was built well over a century ago. The line follows virtually the original Tehachapi in the 21st Century


Right: On March 10, 2008 a surprise GP30 appeared in the lashup on this northbound near Caliente, California.

grade and as mentioned earlier only a couple of tunnels have been daylighted. Numerous flange lubricators dot the tracks owing to the many curves on the line. Most of these are now solar panel equipped in a nod to modernization. Concrete ties are now common over many stretches of track, but wooden ties are still very prevalent as well. A close look also reveals modern rail fastening to tie technology right alongside traditional spike and tie plate utilization on the adjacent mainline or siding track. One feature of the line that still endures is the Union Switch and Signal searchlight style signals that control train movements over the pass. Two sets of these are still mounted on graceful lattice steel cantilever style masts located in downtown Tehachapi and at Sandcut. These steam era relics offer a contrast to the ultramodern locomotives and equipment that move underneath them. A contrast in technologies could be seen at Sandcut one evening in 2008. The scene was witnessed of a GEVO locomotive-led boxcar train Below: Eastbound BNSF 792 is nearing Walong, California on March 20, 2004.


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

paused at the signals displaying a red aspect mounted on the cantilever bridge. This view was framed with an old code line still intact along the south side of the tracks. Railroading in the 21st Century is still interesting in that way. Despite the current economic downturn resulting in somewhat decreased train counts through Tehachapi, one can predict that the economic cycle will again point upward. When this occurs the railroad traffic will increase as well. Ports in the Bay Area of California will likely expand as well spitting out more container trains on a daily basis that will funnel down the agri-

culturally rich Central Valley on both the Union Pacific and BNSF. Perhaps the capacity of this mostly single track Tehachapi Pass railroad will be strained to the point that it will have to be completely double tracked later on in this century. In that case large amounts of excavation work will have to be performed to some of the hillsides where the track clings precariously such as at the railroad locations of Cliff near Bealville and west of the town of Tehachapi near the location of North Cable. All of the tunnels will have to be rebuilt as well. Many such as Tunnels 1 and 2 would be candidates for being replaced by a large

Above: BNSF 4549 is heading west as it passes the Portland Cement Co. plant at Monolith, California on March 12, 2000. Left: Technology is nicely contrasted between the GEVOs on this UP northbound and the signal and polelines at Sandcut, California on March 11, 2008.

cut because they are short to begin with and pass through fairly shallow ridges. The short tunnels near Cable would also most likely be eliminated. In fact if the railroad were being constructed now instead of almost a century and a half ago, far fewer tunnels would be created. The elimination of the Alray Tunnel on Cajon Pass when an additional track

was installed during the past couple of years attests to this. The huge excavation projects to eliminate the tight tunnels on the former Southern Railway’s “Rathole” in Kentucky is also historical evidence. However, despite any degree of rebuilding or capacity expansion, the railroad over Tehachapi will still retain much of its allure and flavor that it enjoyed dur-

ing the 20th Century and at present. Tehachapi has attracted generations of rail enthusiasts. The Tehachapi Loop could be considered a tourist attraction because it is visited by people with only a mild interest in trains and railroading. The setting of Tehachapi Pass has an appeal of its own as a beautiful environment to run trains through yet still remains a demanding challenge for the railroads utilizing the route — even when employing modern technology. Time and change marches on in the railroad world, but Tehachapi remains one of those “sacred places” in railroading so anointed in a past issue of Trains Magazine. The “old” mingles very nicely with the “new” in this setting. nrhs Tehachapi in the 21st Century


These pages: BNSF 7657 is on the point of a northbound mixed freight near Sandcut, California on March 15, 2006.


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

Tehachapi in the 21st Century


FL9 by Robert A. LaMay


he era of the infamous bulldog nose locomotive with its dual-mode capabilities, namely the FL9, has for the most part come to an end. They lasted much longer than the more than 200 F40PH locomotives Amtrak had from 1976 to the early 2000s. The only F40s that exist today are the Non-Powered Control Units 22

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

(NPCUs) that currently operate on various Amtrak trains around the United States. Some were converted from F40s that were being retired and were built into a basic ballasted cab-car with a baggage compartment. Despite all reasonable expectations for such a specialized locomotive, the FL9 has lasted for over five decades.

Although not running in regular passenger service any longer, a pair of FL9s originally built in 1957 still operate on the Maine Eastern Railroad. This tourist operation is an offshoot of the Morristown & Erie that purchased six of the units from Amtrak in 2002. The remaining two are ex-New Haven 2016 and 2021 and now carry road numbers 488 and 489 respectively. Facing page: With their stacks capped, service days are certainly over for these six CDOT FL9ms sitting at Harmon, New York in April 2009 awaiting shipment to storage at New Haven, Connecticut. —Wayne Koch photo, Robert A. LaMay collection Facing page inset: Here’s a headon view of CDOT FL9m 2026 outside Metro-North’s shop complex at Harmon, New York. —Wayne Koch photo, Robert A. LaMay collection Below: Here is a unique morning lineup in the yard in South Boston, Massachusetts in August 1968. From left to right are FL9 2027, RDC 27, a Roger Williams train-set, and FL9 2021. —Robert A. LaMay collection

While in custody of the Morristown & Erie, one of the FL9s — originally New Haven 2029, then Amtrak 484 — was sold privately and sent to Florida to be repaired and repainted in a handsome dark green and cream scheme. The unit is currently at Orrville, Ohio for sale. Many of the FL9s that were not scrapped can be seen at various museums around the eastern part of the United States. The six Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) units recently retired from service in March 2009 are stored in New Haven, Connecticut, not far from where they were originally delivered in the late 1950s. Of the six units stored, two came from the first order of thirty locomotives in 1957 — ex-New Haven units 2007 and 2015, currently CDOT 2026 and 2027. The remaining four FL9s came from the second order of thirty received in 1960 — ex-New Haven 2038, 2041, 2044 and 2058, currently CDOT 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2014. The New Haven Era The New Haven Railroad era was very interesting and at times very exciting to observe, producing

The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Above: A pair of New Haven FL9s slide under the I-95 overpass just west of New Haven, Connecticut in April 1960. —Robert A. LaMay collection Right: A pair of FL9s sit at the South Boston, Massachusetts engine facility between runs in September 1966. Note the front paint job on FL9 2009, the orange below the head-light extends through the black mustache. —Robert A. LaMay collection

among other things the development of the FL9 dual-mode locomotive. The idea for a dual-mode locomotive came about in the early 1950s. The concept for using dual-mode propulsion, however, goes back much further in the history of the New Haven Railroad. Southern New England is unique in that the New Haven Railroad decided to use an AC catenary wire system. In neighboring New York, the New York Central chose to use the third rail DC system from Harmon and Brewster to New York City. Connecticut, concerned with safety, outlawed the use of live third rail in many open sections of the state. In 1947 the New Haven Railroad 24

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

was re-organized under the control of F.C. Dulmaine, Jr. While the idea for a dual-mode locomotive was considered, it was never carried out due to the railroad’s continually deteriorating financial condition. Dulmaine was ousted in an ugly proxy fight in 1954 opening the door for Patrick B. McGinnis to become president. He was under a mandate to eliminate all electrified lines east of Stamford, Connecticut including all of the New York area electric freight operations.

However, the railroad continued to slide deeper and deeper into its financial quicksand and McGinnis’s idea for a dual-mode locomotive was once again put on the back burner. Even so, prior to his hasty departure from the railroad in 1956, he called for another study by the mechanical engineering department on developing or purchasing a locomotive that met the following criteria: • Force the retirement of the New Haven’s fleet of aged and worn

Left: After a typical New England snow storm, FL9 2004 arrives at the station in Pittsfield, Massachusetss on February 28, 1967. —Robert A. LaMay collection

out American Locomotive Company (Alco) DL109 locomotives and most of the older box cab electrics. • Operate in diesel-mode in the open air and in electric DC mode while inside the tunnel approaches to Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station. • Comply with the 58,000lb-peraxle restrictions imposed by New York’s Park Avenue Viaduct that leads to the tunnel to Grand Central Terminal. The gross weight of the FL9 was 266,400 pounds or 53,200 pounds per axle. • Force the elimination of the locomotive change at New Haven, Connecticut. Until the mid 1950s both Alco and Fairbanks Morse were meeting the New Haven Railroad power requirements. The Electro Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors was trying to get their foot in the door just as the idea of a dual-mode locomotive was starting to move along. The New Haven Railroad proposed the development of a new locomotive by modifying one of its own Alco DL109 locomotives and replacing the two prime movers with one of equal or more horsepower and adding all the necessary wiring and circuitry necessary for dual-mode operation. This proposal was dropped because it couldn’t meet the weight restrictions required to operate on the Park Avenue Viaduct. Alco and Fairbanks Morse both submitted proposals but in the end just couldn’t come up

with a viable design. This was good news for EMD. After Patrick B. McGinnis was removed from office, George Alpert took over the reins. He too favored the dual-mode plan that McGinnis had started and ordered a pair of units to be tested. The two units were manufactured in late 1956 and the New Haven began a rigorous testing program. These two locomotives were equipped with a Blomberg truck on the front and a six axle truck on the rear. Third shoe gearing was placed on both sides of the lead truck. After numerous explosions and fires and the discovery that the truck could not operate correctly in tight turns the Blomberg truck was replaced with a Flexicoil

truck and third rail gearing appeared both on the front and rear trucks on both sides. With third rail collection equipment located on all four trucks the current was equalized as the train moved past the many gaps in the third rail that existed around complicated slip switches. The first thirty FL9s were built with 16-cylinder 567C diesel engines rated at 1,750hp. The second order of thirty came with the newer 567D1 engine rated at 1,850hp. As mentioned above, the FL9 was originally equipped with a Blomberg front truck that was later replaced by a Flexicoil truck. The rear truck on an FP9 was normally a four axle configuration but the FL9 called for a three axle (A-1-A configuration) Flexicoil type truck. The middle axle on the rear truck acted as an idler and was used to distribute the added rear weight more evenly. With the addition of the three axle rear truck the car-body had to be lengthened, hence the FL9 designation came to Below: This is why the FL9 was built; FL9 2052 is in third rail territory deep in the tunnels of Grand Central Terminal at New York City on February 18, 1961. —Robert A. LaMay collection

The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Right: A very clean pair of Penn Central-painted FL9s, 5010 and 5015, lead the Yale-Harvard Regatta train across the Central Vermont Railway bridge at New London, Connecticut in July 1969. The train will then follow the boats in the river north to Montville where the finish line is located. This was the last year the train operated. —Robert A. LaMay collection

be. The units in the second order featured a number of differences from the first order: • No roof mounted pantograph was included although the original design called for this. • No roof piping — a change of diesel engines from the 567C to the 567D1 proved that this piping wasn’t necessary, so it was omitted. • No roof access ladder on the rear of locomotive — with the omission of the roof mounted pantograph this rear mounted ladder was no longer needed. • Engineer’s Control Stand — the first thirty FL9s were equipped Below: FL9 5040 sports a basic black look at Stamford, Connecticut on March 22, 1974. This unit wore this scheme with only its 5000 series number; nothing else was ever applied to this unit during its tenure. —Joseph R. Snopek photo, Robert A. LaMay collection


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

with the GP9 type and the second thirty were equipped with the GP18 type control stand. • No front end multiple unit receptacles. With the completion of the last unit, FL9 2059, the long and successful era of the cab-type locomotive came to a historic end. The Penn Central Era On January 1, 1969 the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central merged into a mega railroad called Penn Central. This merger included the New Haven Railroad. The first few months of operation produced few visible changes. Before long, however, the FL9s original

2000 series road numbers were changed to a 5000 series. By this time the FL9s had logged millions of miles, were worn out and were not being maintained. Over the next few months the new Penn Central corporate identity became apparent in the form of a simple black locomotive with white lettering. A new white logo appeared displaying an entwined large white PC, referred to as the “mating worms” logo. During the Penn Central era twenty-three FL9s received this scheme. In addition, a lone FL9 traveled the system all in black without any markings of any kind. Could this have been a remake of the “Black Maria?” Those that didn’t get the black treatment continued on in the McGinnis scheme but got a large white PC logo placed over the block NH. Others that didn’t get the PC were simply painted out with white paint, leaving a sloppy whitewash look. The influx of ex-New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad E units along the shoreline route created a surplus of FL9 locomotives. To better utilize the FL9s some were put into freight service to Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts. The first thirty came equipped with multiple unit receptacles located on the nose of the locomotive. Due to the ICC restrictions placed on the second thirty, nose receptacles were omitted. Therefore, Penn Central modified a few of the FL9s with home built, multiple unit receptacle outlets on the FL9s noses.

Left: After the Penn Central debacle the MTA took over the reins. FL9 5012 is seen here sporting the new MTA look at Stamford, Connecticut on October 23, 1971. —Robert A. LaMay collection

Sometime after the merger Penn Central regionalized its commuter and other passenger train business. All commuter operations into Grand Central Terminal (GCT) were put under the Metropolitan Region with costs to be shared between Connecticut and New York. The Harmon, New York shop complex also came under the control of the newly formed Metropolitan Region. The New Haven shops, where the FL9s were assigned, was placed under the Northeastern Region. The end result was the FL9s were repaired and maintained on an “as needed” basis — simply put, only when the units broke down. This was the period I refer to as the “Period of the Ugliest.” One failure after another occurred, both mechanical and electrical. Grand Central Terminal, once a smoke free environment, now became choked with horrible diesel exhausts caused by ill-maintained FL9 locomotives coming through the terminal. Penn Central operations continued to suffer from rapidly increasing overhead costs. On June 21, 1970 Penn Central entered bankruptcy.

promote a better public image a new paint scheme was designed. Within a short period of time FL9s 5050 and 5014 appeared sporting the new look consisting of a flake blue car body with bright yellow nose, yellow numbers and a large yellow PC on each side of the locomotive. Over time variations of this scheme spread to other FL9s. An important fact about this scheme was the way it was applied to the locomotive. According to the painting instructions the application had to be done in a specific manner to assure the flake appearance. The entire car body had to be painted with an undercoat of yellow paint. Then all the areas that weren’t left yellow had to be painted metallic

silver. The final coat was a transparent medium blue placed over the metallic silver producing a unique metal flake look. Over time this stringent plan was not followed and the results were units with metallic green, variations of blue-green and even yellow green. As the years marched by the blue faded to some very unusual shades and the yellow faded to an almost white look. In 1973 Connecticut began to receive its new fleet of General Electric-built M2 Class electric multiple unit commuter cars sealing the fate of the old Pullman-Standard cars. During the MTA era the New York Central also got rid of their P2b electric locomotives creating a shortage of power for Amtrak’s Empire Services between Albany and New York City. The MTA resolved this by leasing Amtrak FL9s 5001, 5010, 5013, 5014 and 5029. One disadvantage Amtrak discovered about the FL9 was the third rail Below: MTA FL9s 5035 and 5040 sit in Motive Power Storage at New Haven, Connecticut on July 2, 1972. Most of the New Haven heritage has been painted out and the units have 5000 series numbers and the Penn Central “Worms in Love” logo. —Joseph R. Snopek photo, Robert A. LaMay collection

The MTA Era Right after the Penn Central went bust, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) made arrangements to assure the continuation of commuter operations. To help The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Right: MTA-painted FL9s 5031 and 5027 idle in a cold blustery February 10, 1979 at Poughkeepsie, New York. Note the famous Hudson River Rail bridge high above the train. In 2009 the bridge opened a new railway across the river. —Robert A. LaMay collection

shoes that had to be activated from inside the cab by the engineer whenever a train entered or left third rail territory. This mechanism quickly became a maintenance nightmare. The M2 cars arrived with their third rail shoes fixed in the down position. This configuration worked so well the railroad decided to do the same to the FL9s and the problem was resolved. The MTA continued to operate the commuter service until Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976. The Conrail Era 1976 was a seminal year in railroading. The rail system in the northeast was rapidly coming apart financially and something had to be done to salvage what was left before all of the carriers declared bankruptcy. The solution was the creation of Conrail to inherit the assets of many of the bankrupt railroads in the northeast. What was left of the aged and deteriorating fleet of FL9s was included in the locomotives transferred to Conrail. One of the first major pieces of business was the sale of seven FL9s to Amtrak — 5004, 5006, 5008, Above: Just over one month into the Conrail era, New Haven-painted FL9 5048 rolls south along the Harlem River Line at MP 51 on May 27, 1977. Seems like the New Haven just didn’t want to give in. —Robert A. LaMay collection Left: Conrail had seven FL9 locomotives rebuilt in Hornell, New York. Seen here at Poughkeepsie, New York on October 6, 1979. FL9 5043 is in the new MTA scheme, a design that became known as the “blue bird” scheme. —Robert A. LaMay collection


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

Above: A pair of clean-looking Conrail-painted FL9s, 5023 and 5040, lead a consist of ex-D&H cars at Irvington, New York in July 1981. —Robert A. LaMay collection Left: FL9 5041, seen here in Brewster, New York, was repainted shortly before Conrail took over the passenger service in one of several schemes applied to the FL9s. This design eventually formed the basis for Conrail’s early paint scheme. —Joseph R. Snopek photo, Robert A. LaMay collection

5009, 5016, 5021 and 5025 — to help ensure that the Empire Services operated smoothly. However, most of these units sat for years in the deadline at Croton North while other FL9s leased from MTA ran in Amtrak service. A simplified Conrail paint scheme consisting of a medium blue car body with yellow nose quickly appeared including letters CR on the nose and sides of the locomotive. Conrail’s newly designed corporate logo

didn’t officially appear until April 28, 1978 when FL9 5015 showed off the new look consisting of a royal blue car body with a bright yellow nose. Across the nose was a large white “CONRAIL.” On each side the road number appeared in white along with a large white official Conrail logo. Conrail operated the commuter lines under contract for the MTA. Then the next surprise appeared in October 1979 when the MTA

had seven FL9s — 5020, 5024, 5031, 5039, 5043, 5044 and 5048 — rebuilt at the General Electric plant located in Hornell, New York. Another new scheme was born and went on to be referred to as the “Blue Bird” scheme featuring a silver car body with a solid blue band along each side then angled to form a “V” just below the nose door. Along with the Conrail scheme, a blue and gray MTA logo appeared on the locomotives nose and on each side near the front of the locomotive. Beneath the logo appeared the word “Central” in a show of continuity for the equipment operating along the Hudson

The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Above: FL9 487 blasts around a curve with the northbound Maple Leaf near Cold Spring, New York on March 17, 1990. The train is passing beneath the Breakneck Ridge walkover bridge that leads to the trailhead. In the background across the river, Storm King Mountain looms high above the train. —Robert A. LaMay photo Right: Freshly out-shopped FL9 491 sits at Rensselaer, New York on September 13, 1981 wearing the new look for Amtrak’s FL9 fleet. Note the white numbers on a black background in the number boards. During the rebuild/ overhaul the nose door was welded shut. This was later reopened when a safety complaint was filed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. —Joseph R. Snopek photo, Robert A. LaMay collection

and Harlem lines that used to be served by the New York Central. During the Conrail era many changes took place and color schemes came and went. On January 1, 1983 the United States Congress mandated Conrail’s exit from the commuter rail business. 30

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

The Amtrak Era Amtrak was officially created on May 1, 1971. In 1976 Amtrak received 12 FL9s from Penn Central. Most of the units sat dead at Croton North because they were in very poor condition and Amtrak continued to lease power from the MTA to assure the reliability of service along the Hudson line from Rensselaer to New York City. In 1978 a contract was awarded to Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho to remanufacture the six FL9 loco-

motives that were in the best condition — units 236–240 and 242. The remaining units were used for parts or scrapped. When completed, the units were renumbered 485–489 and 491. During the rebuild dozens of alternations were made. The units received remanufactured trucks with D77B traction motors from retired SDP40Fs, fuses were replaced with circuit breakers for improved reliability, head-end-power (HEP) receptacles were added and the

Left: Freshly overhauled FL9 485 shows off its new look as it rolls south at Poughkeepsie, New York in October 1990. —Robert A. LaMay photo

dynamic braking and related wiring were removed. From 1990 until 1993, Amtrak’s fleet of FL9s went through one last rebuild at the Beech Grove Locomotive Maintenance Facility located just outside Indianapolis, Indiana. Originally each overhaul was to have taken six weeks, but with so many locomotives moving in and out of Beech Grove, the program lasted considerably longer. This time the following major improvements were made: • The TMC transfer connector and diesel/third rail power selector contactor was replaced with an electro-magnetic type. • The third rail power shunting contactors were replaced with an electro-magnetic type. • The third rail circuit breaker was replaced. • The 567 main engine was overhauled and upgraded with a 645E power assembly. • The main diesel fuel supply system was modified with pre-heaters, fuel filters, and bypass. • The GG journal box housing was modified to interface with the third rail beam. • The third rail air compressor air Above: Amtrak FL9s sit at Harmon, New York on August 19, 1979. A power change took place here and the FL9s took the Amtrak trains to and from New York City. Note the paint scheme on the 489, the only FL9 to wear the “cigar band” scheme. —Robert A. LaMay collection Right: Late during the MTA era five FL9s were leased to Amtrak to assure coverage on their Empire Corridor services to New York City. One of these happened to be FL9 5014, later renumbered 238 by Amtrak. The unit is seen here idling at Rensselaer, New York in June 1977. This unit was renumbered once again when Amtrak received its new F40PH locomotives. —Robert A. LaMay collection The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Right: FL9 491 approaches the Anthony’s Nose Tunnel at the base of the Bear Mountain bridge at Bear Mountain, New York in March 1989. The west shoreline of the Hudson River can be seen in the background. —Robert A. LaMay photo

lines and control wiring were overhauled. • The air brakes were converted from 24RL to 26L with Uni-Rack. In September 1995 the Amtrak Maintenance Facility at Rensselaer, New York received its first pair of newly manufactured P32AC-DM locomotives. The designation stood for (P)assenger (32)00hp (AC) traction motors with (D)ual-(M)ode capabilities. From 1995 to mid 1998 the new and old dual-modes operated together. While the General Electric units had some teething issues, their older cousins operated flawlessly. Once the entire fleet of P32s Below: During the spring of 1989 a track was constructed around the middle tunnel of Anthony’s Nose Tunnel at Bear Mt., New York as work commenced to raise the interior ceiling so stack trains could pass through safely. In this photo FL9s 486 and 485 move onto the by-pass with southbound No. 48, the Lake Shore Limited with the Bear Mountain Bridge looming high above and behind the train in March 1989. —Robert A. LaMay photo

was delivered and became reliable, the FL9s became surplus and were retired from service in 1998 and sent to Bear, Delaware where they were put into long term storage. The Morristown & Erie Era During their stay at Bear, Delaware FL9s 484 and 487 headed off to northern Maine to work on a tourist operation out of Northern Maine Junction, Maine. Once the season was over they headed back to Bear, Delaware. They sat here until mid 2002 when the Morristown & Erie Railroad located in Morristown, New Jersey purchased all six from Amtrak. The units were sent to Morristown where two of them, 488 and

489, were repainted into a quasiC&O scheme for use on a business car special that made a round trip to Port Jervis, New York in September 2003. The units were then used as power for the Santa Claus trains at the Whippany Railroad Museum in New Jersey. R. P. Flynn, owner of the Ohio Railway Supply, purchased 484 and sent it to Florida to be updated and repainted at the Florida East Coast Railroad’s New Smyrna Beach shop facility. The unit is currently for sale and sports a sharp-looking white and green color scheme. Around the end of June 2009 484 was moved from Florida to Orrville, Ohio where it was used on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic for some fall foliage trips during October 2009. The three remaining FL9s still sit at Morristown awaiting an uncertain future. The Maine Eastern Era On November 1, 2003 the Morristown & Erie established the Maine Eastern Railroad to transport freight between Brunswick, Rockland and Augusta, Maine. Passenger service was established during the summer of 2004 using of a pair of ex-Amtrak F40PH locomotives. After a very successful first season the decision was made to operate the trains again in 2005, this time operated by a pair of FL9s. The pair was sent to Morristown, New Jersey where they were painted into a handsome color scheme of cream and green with


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

Left: For a short time Metro-North renumbered its FL9 fleet to a 500 number series. FL9 509 is seen here at Danbury, Connecticut on December 31, 1983. —Robert A. LaMay collection

gold lettering. These two FL9s have been holding down passenger operations since. The MTA–Metro-North Era On January 1, 1983 a new subsidiary under the MTA was formed — Metro-North Commuter Railroad. Signs of change started to appear when the previous owner’s logo was

blocked out with white paint or tape. Soon the official Metro-North lettering along with the logo began to appear on a scheme featuring a blue car body with yellow nose and the bulls’ eyeencircled large white “M” along its flanks. About six months into the new operation a new paint scheme appeared on FL9 5033 consisting of a very simple change to the

existing CR/MTA “blue bird” scheme as red appeared just below the blue band. The FL9s continued to soldier on until the birth of a new, hi-tech FL9 locomotive designated FL9AC. For four years after Conrail transferred the ownership, FL9s 5022, 5023, 5034 and 5042 sat rusting away on the deadline at Croton North. Sometime during the early part of 1987 Metro-North awarded a $43 million modernization contract to ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) for the remanufacture of ten FL9 locomotives. ABB contracted the Below: After all the confusion caused with the 500 series numbers the fleet was once again renumbered; this time into a 2000 series. FL9s 2027 and 2004 are sitting next to Conrail’s freight house at Danbury, Connecticut in March 1985. —Robert A. LaMay photo

The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Right: Just over a year after MetroNorth took over from Conrail the first visible changes began appearing on the FL9s. Here 5034 sits at the station at Croton-Harmon, New York on January 2, 1984 wearing its new cannonball “M” logo. —Robert A. LaMay collection

work to Republic Locomotive located in Greenville, South Carolina. The first four units were shipped to Greenville on flat cars and the last six came off the active roster. In the end Metro-North got one test and six production units and the Long Island Railroad received three test units. The Metro-North units were numbered 2040 and 2041 and the Long Island units were numbered 300–302. All of the LIRR FL9ACs were returned to Metro-North in 1999 where they sat on the dead line at Croton North, New York until they were scrapped in September 2005. During the rebuild project, Republic Locomotive went out of business and the shop was sold at auction in 1996. The shells of what Below: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Hudson River Railroad a pair of Metro-North FL9s were painted in New York Central’s famed lightning stripe scheme to pull a special train. The units, 2012 and 2013, are seen here rolling south at Croton-onHudson, New York on October 2, 1999. —Robert A. LaMay photo


NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

would become Metro-North 2042 and 2043 were stripped down in Greenville and shipped in skeleton form over the road to Elmira, New York where they became the first two units remanufactured at the Elmira facility. The balance of the order, 2044–2046, were eventually completed at the Elmira facility. In the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Operator’s Manual for the FL9AC Locomotive appeared a table entitled “Comparison between FL9AC and FL9 locomotives.” When Conrail was required to withdraw from the passenger train business, Metro-North took most of

the fleet while CDOT accepted the title to four well-aged and well-used FL9s — three of them nothing more than inoperable hulks. The units, numbered 5005, 5026, 5049 and 5057, were rebuilt and renumbered 2002, 2006, 2119 and 2023. This era of the FL9 saw the rebirth of the New Haven-inspired paint scheme designed by Herb Matter. The original idea was proposed by conductor George E. Wood, engineer Steve Kaselo, and trackman Richard C. Bonelli. However, the first proposal was shot down by Conrail in December 1978. In early 1982 a new proposal was again submitted and the rest, as they say, is history. Project 2000 was set up to take the four CDOT FL9s and return them to New Haven rails sporting the paint scheme that made them famous decades earlier. After the untimely death of Joe Trifono, Richard C. Bonelli carried the ball forward and eventually, with the help of others, successfully completed the Project 2000 program. Without their help and support, the project would have certainly failed. In 1982 a contract was awarded to Chrome Crankshaft Locomotive Co. of Silvis, Illinois for an in-kind rebuild of four FL9 locomotives. In addition to any updates that were made to these locomotives previously, the following specifics took

Left: The FL9s entered a very challenging period when Metro-North awarded a $40 million contract to Republic Locomotive of Greenville, South Carolina to give ten of the older, less reliable FL9s a major reconstruction from the ground up. FL9AC 2040 was the first to return with its powerful look and sound courtesy of its 3,400 hp primemover. The unit is seen here just returning from a test run along the Hudson Line at Harmon, New York on November 14, 1991. —Robert A. LaMay photo

Comparison between FL9AC and FL9 Locomotives FL9 Locomotive FL9AC Locomotive

Dual-mode DC operation: provides less control over acceleration

Dual-mode AC operation: electrified third rail or diesel-electric power

Manual control of propulsion and braking

Computer-assisted throttle and braking actions ensuring smoothness of operation

Manual control of brake sharing

Automatic “blending” of friction and dynamic braking

No dynamic braking

No means of correcting wheel slip other than reduction of power

Dynamic braking to a standstill can go for regeneration of energy back to third rail system (where possible) or energy to HEP to reduce load on main alternator Computer instantly corrects wheel slippage

Conventional DC traction motors: inherent drawbacks, more frequent overhaul of locomotive propulsion equipment

Asynchronous AC traction motors: smoother acceleration, higher initial torque, less slippage, improved reliability, less maintenance, cooler running

Conventional power components consume more energy, operate hotter and require more maintenance

Solid state technology in chopper/inverters provides more efficient energy conversion

Slower response to electrical faults and short circuits

Instantaneous computer sensing of faults, fast triggering for circuit breakers

HEP produced by separate diesel alternator set

HEP produced by solid state inverter

Reciprocating compressor

Rotary air compressor for smooth, quiet operation

place: • The fast start circuitry was modified for more reliable operations. • The third rail shoe beams and place shoes were permanently in the down fixed position. • The third rail electro-magnetic circuit breaker with Brown-Boveri heavy duty solid state circuit breakers were replaced for reliability. • The 24RL brake system were replaced with the newer and more reliable 26L system. • A tri-mode DC-DC solid state converter was added for battery charging while operating on third rail DC current. The tri-modes were as follows: auxiliary generator on diesel power, safety model converter on third rail power, and LaMarche VDC converter on layover power. • The DC motor-generator set was replaced. • A new Head End Power (HEP) package was installed including a Cummins 407 hp turbo V6 diesel, Marathon 350kW 60hz threephase output alternator, Enercon electric control package, and a Kim Hot-Start HEP engine block heater. During the summer of 1985 when the rebuilt units returned the clock seemed to turn back to 1957. The first rebuild, 2006, returned home in May 1985, another arrived in June and the last two in August. These units operated tirelessly for the next several years all over Connecticut and New York. MetroNorth operated the locomotives and cycled them in and out of their main shop facility at Harmon, New York

The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Above: What was once a very common scene — FL9 powered trains on weekend layover in the yard at Danbury, Connecticut — is no more. Seen here in New Haven on June 23, 1996 are livered FL9ms 2027, 2026, and 2014. —Robert A. LaMay photo Right: Bound in bunting, FL9s 2002 and 2003 stop briefly at the Derby-Shelton station for festivities to announce more reliable service and to show off the new equipment for the Waterbury– Bridgeport commuter service in May 1991. —Robert A. LaMay photo

as service was needed. Finally in 2001 the four were retired and sat at Harmon for a short time. Eventually 2006 went to the Danbury Railway Museum in Danbury, Connecticut, 2002 and 2019 went to the Railway Museum of New England in Thomaston, Connecticut, and 2023 ended up in the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in Willimantic, Connecticut. Once again the pendulum swung 36

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

back in time when another six FL9s were picked from the Metro-North fleet for rebuild. In September 1991 CDOT awarded a contract to Morrison-Knudsen Rail Corporation in Boise, Idaho for an in-kind remanufacture of six FL9 locomotives over

a period of three years. The six locomotives were picked from Metro-North’s current operating fleet. MK’s remanufacturing process included a complete disassembly of the locomotives. The purpose of this procedure was to

Left: Morristown & Erie purchased all six FL9s from Amtrak. Two of them, 488 and 489, were repainted in a quasiC&O scheme for a business train that operated to Port Jervis, New York. Seen here is FL9 488 sitting outside M&E’s facility at Morristown, New Jersey. —Sandy Burton photo, Robert A. LaMay collection

repair any existing corrosion and structural damage. The electrical system was completely rewired. New components to simplify third rail circuitry, a head-end power package, cab air conditioning, and a rotary screw air compressor were added. A new prime mover was installed, an EMD 16-cylinder 645C 1,750 hp diesel engine. Each unit received the now famous McGinnis-inspired paint scheme and well as clear coat to protect the paint. When returned they were classed as FL9m locomotives (M stood for modified) and numbered 2011, 2014, 2016, 2024, 2026 and 2027. These units logged thousands of miles but as their end drew near they operated in diesel mode only. The shoe beams were maintained just to remove ice from the third rail around the shop area at Harmon, New York but the cabling was no longer hooked up to the electrical cabinets inside the FL9 car body. The units were eventually removed from service early in 2009 and sent to New Haven, Connecticut where they are currently sitting in storage. nrhs Above: The quasi-C&O scheme was short lived because these same two units were selected to be the primary power for the new Maine Eastern Railroad running between Brunswick and Rockland, Maine. MER’s tourist train rounds the curve at Brunswick, Maine led by FL9s 488 and 489 on July 16, 2005. —Robert A. LaMay collection Right: Ex-Amtrak FL9 484 sits at Orrville, Ohio on August 21, 2009 sporting a new paint scheme after being reworked at Florida East Coast Railway shops in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. —Randy Faris photo, Robert A. LaMay collection The FL9: A Dul-Mode Locomotive Story


Book Reviews:

Baldwin Locomotives

No author, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-7643-3376-7; Hardcover, 328 pp., 11 x 8.5”; Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pennsylvania, (610) 593-1777,; List price: $39.99 Baldwin Locomotives reproduces ten issues of Baldwin Locomotive Works’ Record of Recent Construction from 1900 through 1902. In the latter year, Baldwin employed 11,000 men and used 7,000,000 lbs of iron per week, turning out three or four new locomotives every day. As the 1902 introduction in this volume says, “rapid advances in locomotive practice” caused difficulty in preparing “a general illustrated catalog which would not become obsolete as soon as issued.” Instead, Baldwin published “information pertaining to a great variety of locomotives, of different gauges, and for different kinds of service” as the company energetically marketed their products, in vigorous competition with newlyformed American Locomotive Company (Alco). Roughly half of the book consists of double-page spreads: a black and white builder’s photo on the left page facing “General Dimensions” on the right, with identification by type (i.e. “Ten-Wheel Locomotive”) and railroad. Locomotives range from 0-4-0 switchers to Pacifics and Decapods; Baldwin hadn’t yet built a Mallet. Foreign lines include

Power for the Streamliners Union Pacific’s E8A/E9A Fleet Robert P. Olmsted, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-942035-79-7; Softcover, 48 pp., 8.5 x 11”; South Platte Press, David City, Nebraska, (402) 367-3554,; List price: $19.95, plus $5.00 shipping This magazine-sized publication starts with a fine color photo on the front cover of E9 951 leading Union Pacific’s business train near Abilene, Kansas and ends with a color close-up of 951’s UP winged emblem on the back cover. In between are 65 black & white photographs with captions, most showing E8s and E9s in service leading UP passenger trains from 1951 through the end of UP passenger service in 1971. The publication begins with E8/9 predecessors, with one photo each of an E3, E6, and E7, and even a 4-8-2 as a front-end helper for Sherman Hill, just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Later, two photos show E9 951 painted for the 38

NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2010

Australia’s Victorian Railways, France’s Paris, Lyons & Mediterranean, and the Zululand Railway of Natal (now part of South Africa); domestic railroads include the Pennsylvania (always a good Baldwin customer; the two firms shared the headquarters city of Philadelphia) and dozens of others from coast to coast, from the huge Union Pacific and Southern Pacific to the tiny New York State’s three-foot gauge Catskill & Tannersville — oddly enough, misidentified by Baldwin as “Gauge 4’ 8½”.” This book’s true value comes in the “Record” articles, abundantly illustrated with photos and diagrams. “The Building of a Modern Locomotive” features many interior views of the Works and its mammoth machinery, including men at work. Offering a fascinating glimpse into the state of the art at that instant in time, men who made locomotive history produced four of the articles: Mechanical engineer Cornelius Vanderbilt explains “Locomotive Boilers” (and his own patented corrugated firebox, previously unknown to this reviewer), and “Mr. Baldwin” himself, Samuel Vauclain, gives three talks including “Compound Locomotives,” delivered in 1901. Mr. Vauclain declared compounding as indispensable for all types of locomotives; little could he know that superheating would sweep it aside only a few years later. Every student of locomotive development will find Baldwin Locomotives essential reading, particularly for Vanderbilt’s and Vauclain’s first-person accounts. One hopes that today’s engineers will leave such a record for readers a century hence. —Oren Helbok

U. S. Bicentennial Preamble Express in 1976 and back in UP colors in 1995 at the head of UP’s business train. At the end are photos of UP E8s and E9s as they appeared after being sold to Rock Island, Chicago & North Western (including the front end modification as a Crandall cab), and Amtrak. The photos appear well-chosen, with generally good reproduction quality. Most are half-page or larger in size and well-captioned, with location and date, and often with additional information about the particular locomotives or trains pictured, or about UP’s E8s and E9s in general. The photos also illustrate some detail changes made to the fleet over the years. The book has no table of contents or index, but neither is really needed. Text is limited to the photo captions except for a one-page introduction by James Reisdorff that gives a quick summary of UP E8/9 history. As the introduction states in its conclusion, “The intent here is purely a pictorial celebration of the Union Pacific E8 and E9 diesel locomotive and a reliving of the regal age of streamlined thoroughbreds.” This little volume does just that. —Donald Plotkin

Frank Julian Sprague: Electrical Inventor and Engineer William D. Middleton and William D. Middleton III, 2009; ISBN: 9780253353832; Hardcover, 336 pp., 7 x 10”; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, purchase from or; List price: $39.95 This book salutes an inventor and industrialist who worked in the same era as Alexander G. Bell and Thomas A. Edison. Trained as a U.S. naval officer; his mark can still be seen today on the front of every diesel locomotive, EMU, DMU and subway elevated car. His signature, multiple unit connectors that allow one operator to operate two or more self-propelled units from one control, are obvious appendages on nearly every rail motive power unit. Many experts in transportation feel that the inability to MU, not the problems of the steam boiler, doomed the steam locomotive after WWII. Double heading was a “seat-of-the-pants” procedure that sometimes resulted in equipment damage.

The Railroad Never Sleeps: 24 Hours in the Life of Modern Railroading Brian Solomon, editor, 2008; ISBN 978-0-7603-3119-4; Hardcover, 176 pp., 9.25 x 10.875”; Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, MN, (800) 826-6600,; List price: $35.00 Your mission: Document a calendar day in the life of America’s railroads. What railroad(s) do you choose? What location(s)? Well-known author and photographer Brian Solomon recruited 37 contemporaries to disperse around North America on the 138th anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony and record images according to their own concepts of the assignment. The resulting allcolor coffee-table tour seems at once thorough and hurried, inspiring and frustrating ­— but certainly thoughtprovoking. In his foreword, renowned photographer (and participant) John Gruber succinctly states a central challenge of the photographers’ effort: “Sometimes the most interesting subject matter presents itself during the least inspiring light, and sometimes the light falls on nothing but empty track (which is also a part of the story).” Every cameracarrying railfan understands that!

But Sprague did more than develop an MU system. If you have ridden under wires or on a third rail system, thank Julian Sprague. If you ride vertically in a building, thank Julian Sprague. If you have heard the expression, “so simple a child could do it;” remember that Julian Sprague had his 10-year-old son operate a six-car train at the GE test track in Schenectady, New York. Sprague’s influence was much broader than MU. Sometimes he would work with Edison and the companies that Edison controlled. When Edison opposed him, as happened on several occasions, Sprague either won in court or sold out to him at a considerable profit. Sprague also had an interest in the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory at Bellevue, D.C. The complete listing of Sprague’s 95 patents covering elevators, electric motors, power, traction, train control and others covers seven pages of the text. While the contents of this book are not new, as the extensive bibliography would indicate, the Middletons have provided a commendable service by putting all this information together between two covers. And although the book reads like a text book for a three semester-hour college course, this volume should be in the collections of those interested in science, rail transportation, politics or law. —Burton Eisenberg As the book opens, in the wee hours of May 10, 2007, Solomon presents his secondary theme: the men and women who keep the trains moving. We see them at work — BNSF maintainers eyeing rising flood waters in Missouri — and we see what they see — the view forward from the fireman’s seat of a Wisconsin & Southern SD40-2. Each of the seven chapters begins with a page or two of text; photo captions tell most of the stories. However, two short-line photo essays run across chapters: One documents the day on New York’s Falls Road Railroad; the other, a California counterpart, Pacific Harbor Line. Throughout, we see trains and railroaders from Nova Scotia to Washington State, Saskatchewan to Texas — switchers, local freights and manifests, Amtrak and commuter trains, even the Dallas trolley. As we hop, skip, and jump from location to location, the time of day in every caption reminds us of the theme of the book — but those hops and skips can leave a reader feeling disoriented: A BNSF unit grain train and an abandoned Lehigh Valley tunnel share a two-page spread, but they have almost nothing in common. One can enjoy this book for its images, many quite dramatic and creatively photographed, and the great variety of photos will inspire many of us. But the book reads like many small stories rather than as one large one. Perhaps Brian Solomon took on an impossible task: Perhaps a thousand photographers and a multi-volume work couldn’t capture all of “railroading,” even a day’s worth, but don’t we love railroading for its very bigness? —Oren Helbok Mystery Photo, Book Reviews


NRHS Bulletin  

Spring 2010 issue of the NRHS Bulletin posted as a test of the Issuu product.