NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/24 12:28 p.m.
VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic Dork
2/20/24 1:19 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Crazy, gives me a War of the Worlds/ Skynet Terminator vibe.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/24 2:19 p.m.

In reply to VolvoHeretic :

Pretty impressive, considering they were invented in 1898. It's really just unfortunate that after being set aside for preservation for almost 25 years, it's still going to end up scrapped. I get the reasons why; it's absolutely massive and would be expensive to restore and display, and no one has stepped up to save it. But it's still sad that such impressive machines are going to pass into extinction.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/24 3:16 p.m.

Another frustrating one was the demolition of Hotel Pennsylvania last year. It was built by the Pennsylvania Raiload in 1919 a couple years after the opening of New York Penn Station (the original, beautiful one) and was, at the time, the largest hotel in the world. It also had the famed phone number of PEnnsylvania 6-5000 (73 for PE, giving it 736-5000), which was immortalized in the song of the same name. The hotel closed permanently in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vornado Realty Trust (terrible name, btw) was going to build a 56-story, 2.7 million-square-foot office tower that would "provide a quality experience rooted in authentic New York” and "create a workplace experience that is within the essence of NYC to help draw employees back to office." Except it turned out that, with tons of already-existing empty office buildings, even their vague BS quotes about "authentic experiences" and "essence of NYC" couldn't make this one seem like a good idea. So instead, Vornado is pivoting to....... billboards and tennis courts. Seriously. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/21/24 11:06 a.m.

Livonia, Avon & Lakeville seems to really be tanking a lot of their goodwill with railfans lately. The Alco stronghold, which includes subsidiaries Bath & Hammondsport, Western New York & Pennsylvania and Ontario Midland, had parked all the big 6-axle MLWs on the WNY&P a couple years back in favor of some used AC60000CWs, and then finally sold them off to GVT this year. Then, this fall, the LA&L announced that they would be retiring all of the Alcos on the LA&L proper over the next two to three years to replace with green power. Earlier this month, Flour-By-Rail Legacy Project announced they had to raise $30k by the end of this month to buy an ex-Buffalo Creek Flour S-2 off of LA&L or it would be scrapped. The S-2 in question is a complete, operating, certified Alco S-2, not some stripped-out parts donor, but apparently still looking at getting torched, which is especially sad because it escaped the Genesee & Wyoming scrapping frenzy at Tioga Central. Fundraising is not going well (Sitting at about $9k with only a week left) so it very well may get the torch. And then earlier this week, the LA&L torched a complete running Alco S-4 up on the Ontario Midland without any heads-up in the slightest. Their statement was "It would have cost $50k to move off the property" but there surely were people that would have at least wanted parts off of it. It's not like 539T parts are getting any more common.

I'd like to go out to the LA&L at the very least once more to photograph the big Alcos before they're retired, but once that Alcos are gone, my interest in that line will be gone.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/21/24 12:22 p.m.

Well, since this morning, the future has improved a little for Buffalo Creek #46/LA&L #14. The fundraising finally hit $10k, at which point a donor tossed in a pledged $2.5k, which was the plan as announced. Once it hits $15k, another anonymous donor has pledged another $20k. And reportedly, if they can raise at least $20k, LA&L might be willing to hold onto the locomotive and extend the deadline to raise the $30k a little longer. I sure hope thats true, since it'd be a shame to see another Alco end-cab switcher get scrapped.

The Lehigh Valley-inspired paint scheme is a leftover from the Tioga Central Railroad. Tioga Central operated over a chunk of ex-NYC Pennsylvania Branch line between Wellsboro, PA and Corning, NY and had a bunch Alcos in Lehigh Valley-style paint, as well as the old D&H bicentennial RS-3u. Genesee & Wyoming bought out the line and begrudgingly continued passenger service, but scrapped a bunch of the Alcos on the property, other than this S-2 and the RS-3u, and then shut the operation down permanently in 2019. The #14 and the RS-3u both went to the LA&L, and the LA&L/WNY&P sold off the RS-3u to Arcade & Attica this summer, while the S-2 has been down on the Bath & Hammondsport subsidiary

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/21/24 3:27 p.m.

Unfortunately, it sounds like it might be the end of the road for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming "greens" as well. The LS&I, an Upper Peninsula ore hauler, has always maintained an eclectic roster of motive power. They've never owned a single EMD, but over the years they've had a lot of unusual stuff, including very rare GE U23Cs and secondhand Alco RSD-12s and RSD-15s. In 1989, the LS&I purchased 16 used GE U30Cs from Burlington Northern, followed by 4 ex-Burlington Northern GE C30-7s in 1999. LS&I never even bothered to repaint or lettering the GEs, and so they earned the nickname "greens" from the BN Cascade Green, white and black livery. 

In 2008, David Lustig, a writer for Trains, warned of the demise of Lake Superior & Ishpeming’s GE U30C and C30-7 locomotives. LS&I acquired a group of six GE AC4400CWs from CEFX that pushed most, but not all, of the former BN units aside.  The "blues", as the AC4400s were called due to their CEFX blue paint, saw service across the railroad, while the "greens" were typically relegated to less-demanding service from Eagle Mills to Tilden Mine. The active fleet of "greens" dwindled to just four in the last several years: U30Cs #3000 and #3009, and C30-7s #3073 and #3074. Severe mechanical issues with #3074 and fire damage to #3000 cut the active number in half in the summer of last years. The #3009 was the very last U30C in revenue service anywhere in the US, shocking considering they had once been 600 strong.

Then, during this summer, LS&I acquired another three AC4400CWs from CEFX, which put the #3009 and #3073 into standby. During the colder months in previous years, the pair would sit shut down inside the warm shop, making their activation easier if needed and saving fuel by not idling outside. Most locomotives do not have a cooling system that uses coolant, just straight water, so if it's going to be really cold you have to either A) keep them indoors, B) hook them up to a heater (dicey, because you can have a outage and then get freeze damage), C) drain and dry them, or D) just leave them idling.

Well, with the arrival of the additional AC4400CWs, this year LS&I drained the U30C and C30-7 and stored them outside, and it's believed that reactivation is not likely. With only six AC4400CWs on the roster prior to 2023, operating primarily in pairs, any shift that required four crews would typically see a pair of "greens" pressed into service as the fourth consist. With three additional ACs, now gives LS&I four "blue" consists and a spare. 

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 8:18 a.m.

The #3000, and U30C sister #3009, at Palmer, Michigan in 2018. Hard to believe that these machines were never repainted after 1990 when they were sold and the paint held up that well. Also, amazing that U30Cs are now 50+ year old machines.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 8:31 a.m.

The #3009 at Eagle Mine

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 8:37 a.m.

A pair of LS&I's veteran U30Cs  are seen entering the wye at Empire Junction, making their way up to the mine in 2015. Crazy to think that the #3009 was the last regularly operating U30C, when it's competitor SD40s are still seemingly everywhere.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 8:39 a.m.

The #3000 and #3009 on a morning mine run returning from Tilden Mine to Eagle Mills, where another crew with CEFX power will take the train down to the Presque Isle ore dock. The former BN GEs got a work out making 4-6 trips a day between Eagle Mills and the mine at the time.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 10:02 a.m.

The pair of former BN C30-7s, which were the U30C's replacement with upgraded electrical gear as the main difference (kind of like SD40 vs. SD40-2) are on the point of the Lake Superior & Ishpeming's 3 Tilden job as it makes its first pull of the night and crosses Buffalo Road in Negaunee, Michigan. The vintage GEs were bringing loaded ore jennies out of the Tilden Mine and to the yard at Eagle Mills.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 11:35 a.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 11:36 a.m.

Two of the LS&I C30-7s have passed by a massive pile of mine tailings as they drift down into Negaunee.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 12:17 p.m.

It's also mind-boggling that the GE C30-7 has pretty much passed into extinction. Once there were 1100+ of them roaming the rails. Now, at least in the US, the #3073, is one of just two or three that were still active. New Hope & Ivyland scrapped theirs, #7087, a couple years ago, they're long gone from all Class Is,  and there was just the handful at LS&I, one out to Stockton, California at Delta Bulk Terminal, and maybe one or two others. They're all gone in Canada, there is maybe a handful in South America, and there's an ex-Seaboard one at Kentucky Steam Heritage, but that's just a gutted shell.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 12:35 p.m.

The blue CEFX leaser AC4400CWs that are replacing the "greens".

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 2:03 p.m.

The LS&I in earlier days, when they had some really oddball power. That's a trio of fairly rare ex-AT&SF Alco RSD-15 "Alligators" on the left, while on the right is an even rarer GE U23C. GE only sold 53 U23Cs in the US and LS&I had 5 of them. These were the first 2300hp GE model, with the four-axle U23B not being listed until almost 6 months later.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 2:51 p.m.

Four of the LS&I's five U23Cs drop down into West Yard with 120 loaded ore jennies behind them on July 11, 1989. By this point, the ex-BN U30Cs were starting to arrive and were pushing out the old RSD-15s, RSD-12s and U23Cs. Three separate liveries are represented across the four units. The two middle units with the maroon dip with yellow lettering are in their as-delivered scheme, while the green and white and yellow livery replaced that, and the bright red with white and yellow was the final new LS&I livery. The ex-BN U30Cs and C30-7s were never repainted out of Cascade Green, and the AC4400Ws are going to wear their CEFX leaser colors.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 2:55 p.m.

A pair of RSD15s "Alligators", so called for their long low hood, are spliced by a U23C as they climb over the switch at Palmer Line Junction with 60 loads on July 6, 1988, returning from a trip to Tilden. The big 2400hp 6-axle Alcos were purchased secondhand from ATSF.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 3:52 p.m.

LS&I #2300, the only U23C to get the green, white and yellow paint job, leads two more U23Cs through a rock cut near the township of Bagdad in 1984.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/22/24 4:37 p.m.

I just saw that Metra is buying battery-powered train sets for Chicago area commuter service. The article states they haven't made any plans yet regarding charging them though, so this has the potential to become an entertaining boondoggle. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/22/24 5:14 p.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

I just saw that Metra is buying battery-powered train sets for Chicago area commuter service. The article states they haven't made any plans yet regarding charging them though, so this has the potential to become an entertaining boondoggle. 

It's an interesting idea, since they're serving a branch that's just 16.x miles, and as they're running commuter service, they basically make a run or two in the morning and then a run or two in the evening. I was honestly shocked by this bit: "The trains have a range of 45 to 65 miles, Metra said. Trains can be charged from 20% to 80% — enough to operate — in about 20 or 30 minutes." I imagine they've got some pretty huge battery packs, so even with that relatively short range, that's still a pretty quick charge. Probably a charging cable like a fire hose.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 11:12 a.m.

Three of the LS&I's big "Alligators" slog their way up the hill in 1988. While still looking clean and fairly well kept, the end is near, since the U30Cs will arrive and send them into retirement in just a year. Some of the RSD-15s briefly went over to the Green Bay & Western, and one of the ex-AT&SF/LS&I/GB&W is preserved in operating condition at Illinois Railway Museum in this livery.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 11:22 a.m.

Three of the RSD-12s sitting overnight at Eagle Mills in 1988. The RSD-12s were originally built for the Chesapeake & Ohio, and then in 1969, the C&O had transferred ownership to the Baltimore & Ohio, an odd choice, considering that B&O hadn't bought any Alcos after their last batch of FA-2s or any non-EMDs since the Baldwin RF-16s. That move was pretty short-lived, because in 1972, the B&O sold them off to the LS&I. While the RSD-12 had 4 less cylinders and 600hp less than the big RSD-15s, they were still workhorses, churning out a continuous 78,500 lbs of tractive effort at 6 mph, slightly more than the competing EMD SD9s and at a lower speed.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/23/24 11:31 a.m.

According to the notes of the photographer, Pete Schwesinger, this may be the very last run of the LS&I RSD-12s on April 27, 1989. The crew was complaining that two of the three units were having some sort of issue, and the Control Operator at Eagle Mills told them to shut them down and swap them out for a pair of ex BN U30Cs that were just recently made ready to go.

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