Kevin’s Komments 08/18/2021

Odd Looking Railroad Equipment

What is that? The first image below set me on course to look at all the oddities I’ve seen in pics the last few weeks.

This is former PRR GG1 #4846. Pic was taken in 1979 at the shops in Wilmington, Delaware. It has obviously been cut in half. Note below the back plate, there is some sort of modification that includes a duct or vent. My source isn’t 100% sure, but word is that this half of the GG1 is being used as a snow blower around the shops in Wilmington!!!

Look at the side of this unit – the corrugated/louvered panels extend continuously down the side except at the doors! This is Erie #750, a GE UM20, actually owned by GE. The unit is the first of an ABBA latch up of GE testbed diesel locomotives. They ran on the Erie from 1954 to 1959, and then were repowered and sold to the UP.

Here’s a better look at all 4 units of #750.  (I think the previous pic had different B units.)

This is a McKeen Motor Car Company boxcab built for the Motley County Railway Company. Not sure of the built date, but the pic was dated 1919. This is a gasoline powered loco with about 12,000 lbs tractive effort. I have no idea what the coils on top of the cab are for!

The locomotive, an 0-4-0, SD&PB Railway #1, was referred to as a steam dummy. Steam dummies were small steam locomotives used in street lines / street-car lines. They were made to look like the coaches to hide the look of a steam loco. The idea (in theory) was to fool the horses into thinking they were street cars.

The PRR was famous for building an electric railroad empire on the east coast starting with NY city.  In the early 20th century, they had a number of experimental electric locomotives such as this AA1 which was one of two units built for DC voltage (650 volts) on a third rail.  These locos and this system were tested in 1905, but it quickly succumbed to the efficiency of AC voltage over catenary lines.  Though there were some later tests involving 650 volt DC on a third rail (1909 – 1911), by 1907, the tests of AC on a catenary system had started.

This was one of the later 650 V DC third rail locos – deemed a PRR L-5. 23 (I believe) total units were built and ran passenger trains between 1924 & 1928 from Sunnyside Queens to Manhatten Transfer NJ. These were replaced by locomotives powered by AC when the line was converted in the early ‘30s.

Little B&O box cab #10 was used to switch on constricted tracks near the waterfront of Baltimore. This pic was taken in 1949; the B&O shut down the trolley system in 1954, and #10 was retired to the B&O museum.

We’ve covered these in the past – this is one of NYC’s Shay locomotives, #1896, clad to look like a box cab. The NYC bought five Lima built Shays in 1923, and like the earlier pic, they were clad to look like box cabs to avoid frightening the horses. They were still on the NYC roster in 1950.

When you’re looking for oddities, the shop goats constantly pop-up.  This is PRR #2796, class B8a at the roundhouse in Altoona, 1955.

This pic is of the back end of UP’s “City of San Francisco”.  This is a 38 passenger combination coach/diner car at the rear of the train. 

The “City of San Francisco” started service in the mid-30’s and used 3 railroads to run between San Francisco and Chicago.

The front end was just as unique – This is the 1936 version of the motive power, UP’s M-10004, built by Pullman-Standard as a 2 car set of diesel electric prime movers.  The M-10004 was eventually split and used for boosters for some of the other three M-1000x units.  Motive power on the “City of San Francisco” was switched to EMD E9s in 1939.

Going from high speed passenger service to MOW equipment, these are double-ended snow plows for the Canadian National – CN #55698 & 55699, in 1974. #55698 has been preserved in the New Brunswick Railway Museum.

The PRR experimented with a number of rubber tired switchers. This is #14380 around 1948-1949. These were Buckwalter electric tractors used to switch in tight dockside areas of Jersey City, Philadelphia, & Baltimore. Most of these battery powered switchers were eventually converted to gasoline power.

This is PRR Centercab #5676, built by Baldwin. The long centercabs were designed to move large cuts of cars in drag, transfer, or switching operations. They have redundant dual cab stands for movement in either direction. They were built with heavy cast steel frames. There were many rumors about what would come out on top in a cornfield meet between one of these Baldwins and a typical EMD, and the EMD was never favored! They were late in the development of diesel power and hence never caught on. Most of the failure was because like steam locos, they were specific in purpose. Diesel power trend was to reduce or delete power that was specific – what shop foreman would want to setup maintenance for a number of specific purpose locos when standard diesels could perform a number of duties.

Unfortunately, I’ve run out of time to cover more of these oddities – there are plenty of them in the railroad world.  We have a visit to the club this week from a TV crew – so lots to prepare for!



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