Monday, February 17, 2014

Revisiting the Roseville Yard -- and UP's renumbering of the venerable SD9043AC:

Mid-February, I chanced to re-visit the Roseville Yard on my way to Nevada in order to take a high-elevation vacation in the snow with my bountiful and beautiful wife, the love of my life.

I have already documented one prior visit here, on the blog.  This yielded some interesting views of the highly unique and exclusive SD-59MX, of which there are only three extant.

I also revealed the above aerial view of the Roseville Yard, taken by myself from a law enforcement helicopter a few years ago, because I have worked for various LE agencies for roughly 40 years.

During this visit, I found Roseville's J.R. Davis Yard to be remarkably settled but -- yet -- concealing a major revelation.  See the below photos to disclose this new discovery, with captions.

The problem with posts such as this revolve around the time required to monitor the proper uploading and accurate portrayal of posts such as I would demand.  Two or three photographs, on my current provider, require a good half hour.  With ADD as I have, that tasks me completely.  Which is why I don't post here as much as I would wish.  Because I, frankly, haven't the patience, primarily.

Here, an elder EMD GP-38-2 unit, 587, is hooked to a younger EMD SD-70M.

An actual UP, former SP, rotary plow numbered SP MW 211, weighing in at 265,740 thousand stated pounds, not counting the tender behind.

Close-up, a rotary plow unit, co-powered by steam and diesel.
Cab view of a GP38-2 unit in perfect working condition.
The J.R. Davis Yard main building on Atkinson Street in Roseville, CA

Looking west, with a warning sign that still creates chaotic union reactions.

UP 3583, a former 8000-series EMD SD9043AC unit.  Embiggen the photo and then try to deduce the original number.  Can you do it?

UP 3660 and UP 3583.
Harbor mist grey.  Armor yellow.  An updated yellow rectangle easily replaces an entire locomotive repaint, does it not, in terms of overall cost?

This Roseville siding holds some major techno updates that, in reality, didn't quite pan out for the manufacturer, EMD, and the locomotive purchaser, Union Pacific.
The great line of the classic intro SD-9043AC units.  They shipped with only 4,300hp prime movers.
The massive line.  Once-respected EMD SD-90MACs now diminished in terms of primacy and in terms of numbers.

Stay safe and be well.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Amtrak's #6 California Zephyr east, before the snow

It's no secret that Fornicalia isn't getting a lot of rain whilst -- simultaneously -- the rest of the nation is getting sopped, socked, soaked and snowed-upon.  (Click on the photo to embiggen.)

A passel of scientists/alarmists trying to prove global warming got trapped in Arctic ice.

My Unalaska friends on The Deadliest Catch have to put up with this in the Bering Sea:

That said, living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the 4,000-foot level, I've only received one snowfall in mid-December of 2013, and it was somewhat pedestrian.  Not that my back or my shovel are complaining, mind you.

This video was made just before my December snowfall as the #6 California Zephyr left Colfax and gained track speed of 30 mph on its way towards the Long Ravine bridge and then Cape Horn.  One point I love: listen to the horn as the train passes: a clear example of the Doppler Effect.

[ Please click on the video above and then enlarge in HD.  Its original URL is here: ]

Two engines, nine cars, some very bruised clouds and a vocal crow in the background.

Colfax can be a tricky place for trains and engineers, as it sits in a bit of a depression.  Approaching Colfax, an engineer must not let the train run away and exceed the speed limit as you are traveling downhill by a few degrees.  Leaving Colfax, there is a bit of a climb and, if stopping, one must ensure sufficient braking energy so the train does not begin to back up.  This is a challenge for engineers who must spot bad order cars or move to a siding in Colfax.

As you can see, this Zephyr is led by the standard GE Genesis P42DC locomotive with 4,200 hp.  If you wish to examine the interior of an Amtrak P42DC locomotive, check my post here for great detail.

An interesting point: at a time when most diesel-electric locomotives have transitioned over to AC driven power, Amtrak's fleet consists primarily of DC locomotives.  This, frankly, speaks volumes about the durability and efficacy of GE's original Genesis fleet and their reliability.

God bless and be safe.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

There and Back Again

My most sincere apologies for not having posted in a brutally long time.

I have had an insane time with Google not being kind, and/or myself not being smarter than Google -- likely the second part.

That said, a video up for grabs:

My videos are still being created by the original Cisco Flip HD -- a camera no longer created or supported by Cisco.  In the above video, I learned how to briefly edit internally per scene, which is how I was able to bring out solely audio from the detector at Milepost 154.4 at the end.

The first locomotive is a GE P42DC in Amtrak livery on the Roseville Subdivision's westbound #1 track.  This is the California Zephyr heading towards Auburn, Roseville and then Sacramento.

I missed the lead unit on the freight train, heading uphill on the #2 track.  You can see, however, that UP 5279 -- a GE C45ACCTE -- is working as a mid-train helper, with UP 5148 (an EMD SD-70M) and UP 7476 (a GE C45ACCTE in UP parlance, and ES44AC in GE lingo) pushing at the end.

It's Christmas week, so time to make a hit-and-run post.  Now that I've made peace again with Google and Blogger, more to come.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and God bless us all in the potentially contentious New Year.

Be safe and healthy.


Monday, September 2, 2013

A brief visit to UP's Roseville Yard

Below, an overview of UP's Roseville classification yard (taken by me from Star 6, a LE helo):

And then, on another day, I chanced to encounter a wonderful triumvirate of SD59MX locomotives on a side track whilst I bopped around the Roseville Yard:

The SD59MX -- of which there are three -- the 9900, the 9911 and the 9922 -- was originally built as an SD60M.  Three units were converted to the newest enviro-compliant strictures and then re-named as SD59MX -- SD for its three-axle trucks, 59 for its similarity to an SD60, M due to its comfort cab, and X for experimental.

That said, there is this photograph: 

As well as any number of Union Pacific 59X photos:

Oddly enough, Union Pacific features three former SD60 locomotives as UP 9900, 9911 and 9922.  In intervals of 11?

Information about the SD59MX here.

The EMD SD59M-2, more commonly referred to as the SD59MX, is one of the rarest locomotives in the Union Pacific motive power fleet. SD59M-2s are remanufactured SD60Ms.
Spotting features:
  1. Wide-nose, so far only the later two-window wide nose rather than the earlier three-window "tri-clops" wide nose and none of the traditional 40 Series cab SD60s have been converted.
  2. Slightly slanted air intakes.
  3. High-adhesion HT-C trucks, reused from the "donor" SD60M, rather than the newer "radial" or "bolsterless" trucks. Nearly all SD40-2s and SD50s used the same truck.
  4. Safety fuel tank like that found on current SD70Ms.

That said, my tour continued, as documented here on video:

This was an active day at the Roseville Yard.

Amtrak's #5 westbound pounded through the yard, and any number of other freight locomotives were featured in and around the locomotive maintenance sheds and the drop pits.

Here, new and older traction motors await installation or repair.  It is interesting to note that the listed weight on a typical traction motor set, here, is 11,000 pounds or 5.5 tons.

Here, a D90 traction motor awaits replacement for an EMD SD70M.

And that the discoveries are rated and beyond.

Here, another D90 traction motor waits for installation into an EMD SD70M locomotive, again rated at 11,000 pounds.

Below, a GE locomotive reveals its under-cab under-HVAC-and-air guts:

Below, an EMD SD70ACe reveals its clear cab isolation from the rest of the frame.

And elder GE unit just west of the J.R. Davis office building.

Here, an overview of the J.R. Davis Roseville Yard:

  • Encompasses 915 acres
  • 55 bowl tracks
  • 50 miles of track constructed around local area for bulk and intermodal trains
  • More than 86 miles of new track
  • 247 switches
  • 2 main lines
  • 6,500 rail car capacity
  • 1,800-2,300 cars per day classification ability
  • 8 receiving and departure tracks
  • New repair facility
The private varnish at the end of the California Zephyr #5, the westbound, was the Sierra Hotel.
Please click on each photo above and below in order to embiggen.

In the heat of the moment, the bulk of these photographs were taken during the summer in 100-degree inspiration.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

General Electric locomotive manufacturing leaves Erie, PA for Ft Worth, Texas

And it's all because of unions, wages and profitability.

Let there be no mistake: for whatever reason I have somehow favored EMD locomotives over GE locomotives. Perhaps because of the historical issue or perhaps because I watched more EMD locomotives in my area? I'm not sure.  However, why was it that General Electric believed that it had to open a new manufacturing facility in Texas, as opposed to its former and historical plant in Erie, Pennsylvania? Because of margins.

BloombergNews ran this story back in April of this year:

GE Plans to Cut 950 Jobs at 100-Year-Old Train Plant

General Electric Co. (GE) plans to cut 950 jobs at a Pennsylvania locomotive plant, wiping out most of the site’s recent employment growth, as it shifts some production to a lower-cost factory in Texas.
Reductions at the factory in Erie, Pennsylvania, which is more than 100 years old, are slated to start in six months pending 60 days of talks with union officials, who oppose the move. The new plant in Fort Worth, Texas, is about 20 percent more efficient, said Lorenzo Simonelli, head of GE’s transportation unit.

Enlarge image GE LOCOMOTIVE
A file photo shows workers assembling a General Electric Co. GE Transportation locomotive at the GE plant in Erie, Pennsylvania during May 2009. Photographer: Doug Benz/Bloomberg
“Cost is becoming more and more of a factor,” Simonelli said in an interview. “We’ve got to match our competition and that’s what we’re trying to do.” 

GE had expanded its workforce at Erie by about 1,000 in the past two years to 5,500 today as it increased output of locomotives and mining equipment. The plant in Fort Worth, which employs a fraction of that number, began some production in June and started building locomotives in January. 

Transportation and other manufacturing businesses like health care and energy have been a focus of Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt’s growth strategy. He’s shrinking the finance unit after credit-market disruptions in 2008 jeopardized the company. 

Industrial sales accounted for more than 65 percent of GE’s $144.8 billion in revenue last year, with $5.6 billion coming from GE Transportation. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company is the world’s largest builder of locomotives.

Bigger, at this point, than EMD -- whom Union Pacific quite frankly saved in 2001 with its purchase of 1,000 EMD SD70M locomotives.  In order to keep the domestic locomotive market competitive.

Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc., also referred to as "EMD", is owned by Caterpillar through its wholly owned subsidiary Progress Rail Services Corporation. The company designs, manufactures and sells diesel-electric locomotives and diesel power engines under the Electro-Motive Diesel brand.[1] EMD offers an extensive range of locomotive products in the rail industry.[2]

Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. traces its roots to the Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation, founded in 1922. In 1930, General Motors Corporation purchased the Winton Engine Co. and Winton's primary customer of gasoline engines, Electro-Motive Corporation (a gasoline-electric car manufacturer), combining the two to form GM's Electro-Motive Division (EMD) on January 1, 1941.

In 2005, GM sold EMD to Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC, which formed Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc., to facilitate the purchase. On August 2, 2010, Progress Rail Services Corporation completed the purchase of Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. from Greenbriar, Berkshire, et al. making Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Progress Rail Services Corporation.

But here's the smoking EMD gun:

In 1999, Union Pacific placed the largest single order for diesel locomotives in North American railroad history when they ordered 1,000 units of the EMD SD70M. Union Pacific's fleet of SD70Ms has since been expanded by more than 450 additional units. In addition, Union Pacific also owns nearly 500 EMD SD70ACe's, a number of which have been painted in "Fallen Flags" (acquired/merged railroads) commemorative liveries. All of these locomotives are 710G-powered.

That order, simply stated, kept EMD alive today.

Whilst EMD is on the mend, GE is taking hits in its profit margins.


Union Resistance

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which represents about 3,500 GE workers in Erie, said the shift is unacceptable. 

“We intend to resist this with every tool at our disposal and to fight tooth and nail to retain all of the work that has always been done there,” Chris Townsend, the union’s political director, said in a telephone interview.

Let me note: Texas is a "right to work" state.

Texas is sucking up work from most Leftist states, to include my Fornicalia and, here, Pennsylvania as well.

GE and its unions in Erie failed to reach an agreement in June, which meant that GE will cut 950 jobs in October.  It will also shift production of its profitable GE Evolution Series freight locomotives from Erie to Texas.

GE indicated the Ft Worth plant has a 20% productivity advantage over Erie -- and that, now, GE faces a new and stronger competition from EMD than ever before.

I can't help it: a nice video of a GE Dash-8 unit starting up.

And then, there it is.  Once again Obama insists that the economy is back on track when -- in true statistics -- it is estimated that roughly 18% to 20% of the nation is unemployed or uninterested in looking for jobs.

A far cry from his figures.

In the meantime, employment goes where it goes.

And: Detroit is the result.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UP to resurrect an actual Big Boy steam locomotive?

In a word: yes.

From the actual Union Pacific website itself:

Union Pacific Railroad Acquires Big Boy Locomotive No. 4014

Railroad Plans to Restore One of the Largest Steam Locomotives Ever Built
Omaha, Neb., July 23, 2013 – Union Pacific Railroad today announced it reached an agreement with the Southern California Chapter - Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in Pomona, Calif., to transfer ownership of one of the world's largest steam locomotives, Big Boy No. 4014, back to Union Pacific.

Union Pacific plans to relocate No. 4014 to Cheyenne, Wyo., where Union Pacific's Heritage Fleet Operations team will work to restore it to operating condition. Details regarding those efforts will be made public at a later date.

Union Pacific donated No. 4014 to the historical society December 7, 1961. The locomotive arrived January 8, 1962, at its current display location at the Rail Giants Train Museum in Pomona.
No other railroad has retained its historical equipment or honored its American roots like Union Pacific.

"Our steam locomotive program is a source of great pride to Union Pacific employees past and present," said Ed Dickens, senior manager - Union Pacific Heritage Operations. "We are very excited about the opportunity to bring history to life by restoring No. 4014."

I commend Union Pacific for their strident support of our railroad heritage via various locomotives and concomitant passenger cars.

I am personally familiar with this static locomotive in Pomona, California, because it rests adjacent an area I visit yearly, where LASO tests cop cars at its EVOC facility, next to the Los Angeles County Fair and the NHRA Museum.

I submit that it is only Union Pacific that could have the strength, the commitment, the wherewithal and the dollars to bring an actual Alco Big Boy back to life.

Above is the Pomona locomotive on static display, kept in reasonable shape by the heat and the lack of humidity in the region.

And here is a wonderful video:

Will Union Pacific make good on its aim?

Only time will tell.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MP154: three trains in a half hour

And there I was, thinking I could possibly pull off another train meet on video.  As immured here:

I knew that UP 4878 had already passed Alta and was on its way downhill towards my favorite spot under Interstate 80.

Here, UP 4878 West -- a priority Z Train -- heads downhill on the #2 track, an EMD SD70M with 4,000 hp manufactured between 2000 and 2004, one of 1,083 such units.

In number 2 position was UP 7920, a GE C45ACCTE with 4,400 hp, followed by UP 6398 in third position, an original Southern Pacific (and the last of this order) GE C44AC with 4,390 hp manufactured in 1995 and one of 202 such units.  One of a very few units still displaying actual Southern Pacific colors on the UP main.

Because I anticipated a train meet, I kept my camera rolling on the downhill train.  Yes, admittedly, perhaps a bit too long.

That said, UP 6448 East emerged around the same corner and screamed past me in Run 8, as a GE C44AC, one of 120 such units with 4,390 hp manufactured in 2000.

UP 6448 East on the nose.



EMD units 620 (UP GP38-2, 2000 hp) and 1567 (UP SD40-2N, 3000 hp).

Look closely at the rear of this grain car.  Riders.

Go here for the video on YouTube and, as per normal, click on the link, enlarge, and play with headphones for the best experience.