This Space for Rent

Nov 28, 2021

The crow and her reflection

The crow and her reflection

In the parking lot by the Milwaukie Starbucks

Nov 27, 2021

Back on the rails

4449, with bells on

It’s Holiday Express season again, so I had to detour on the way back from the Big Big Store to meet it and take the first of no doubt a million photos I’ll take of it this year :-)

going back to the well with the same chassis as before

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Very vaguely based on profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop and yours truly @ my dining room table

When the EPA’s emission standards for new locomotives came into effect, it made everything all topsy-turvy for the workers at the MTRR’s Iberville Locomotive Works; they’d built up a shocking amount of expertise on maintaining and tuning the Alco 251, but were unable to reliably get their 251 test beds to get near Tier 4 emissions without a lot of exhaustion and were faced with needing to convert to someone else’s prime mover.

One of them was the Cummins QSK45, which was put into demonstrator 618, a machine that was one of the very first rsx51s built (1978); it had been traded back to ILW in 2010 for an e636, but was in mechanically good enough shape to store for eventual rebuild, and that rebuild was to make it into this demonstrator. Downrated to 1800 HP, but with a pure AC transmission to make up for some of it.

Nov 26, 2021

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite designs a paint scheme
Very vaguely based on profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop and yours truly @ my dining room table

Dust Mite paints a locomotive

Nov 19, 2021

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Silent Mite

Silent Mite, now in (the) tea bags

A clean & ill-lit room

Laundry basket cat

Thor found a clean place to nap

Nov 18, 2021

The platonic ideal of a road switcher

578 sits by the North La Crosse roundhouse

Guess who bought some more slides of the fab four?

Iberville S1

blco 1979
Very vaguely based on profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop and yours truly @ my dining room table

The ILW SX51-A410, a 1000 HP switcher remanufactured from an Alco switcher – in this case a S-1 – with a standard engine compartment wedged between the existing cab & radiator shell (the radiators are replaced with newer and smaller ones, but the fan & metal shell remain), often with a air conditioner unit built into the roof.

Nov 16, 2021

Spooky action at a distance

Very vaguely based on profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop and yours truly @ my dining room table

What better name to call a slug with a control cab?

Nov 12, 2021

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite cuisine

Dust Mite stares dubiously at the vegan fake turkey roll I’m warming up for dinner.

Nov 10, 2021

Backlit Thor

Thor looks out the window

It’s 2am and there’s something very interesting on the other side of the living room window

Branchline locomotive

hfgx 1
Very vaguely based on profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop,
which were then mashed into an I420 by me @ my dining room table

Herrick Feed & Grain #1, an I420 that HF&G purchased in 1992 when their original power (an ex-ICG SW-7) couldn’t keep up with the increasing amount of grain being shipped out of the Herrick elevator and the increasingly large grain cars that were being used to ship said grain.

It’s a standard RSX51-E420 sans dynamic brakes & with two optional features (the most obvious are the extended corner steps, but it also has an air conditioner built into the crown of the cab roof.)

HF&G’s railroad is an artifact of the ICG & N&W abandoning many of their secondary lines through Illinois. When the N&W bailed on their ex-NKP line through Herrick HF&G found themselves faced with the horrible possibility that they’d have to truck everything down to Vandalia or up to Pana for loading, and in that case the local farmers would just cut them out of the deal and go directly to Conrail or the C&EI which I’m sure would be fine except for one particular local grain elevator. So they wrangled state funding and bought the Nickel Plate to Ramsey, then the IC down to the interchange with the Vandalia Railroad (just north of, you guessed it, Vandalia), leased an ICG SW-7, and started running their own unnamed railroad.

Traffic didn’t vanish, but instead increased, so in 1992 they partook of some canadian content when they bought the one-spot from the MTRR/Iberville Locomotive Works. And there it works 30 years later, slowly accumulating miles on the 10 mph at best IC & 30 mph at best Nickel Plate.

Nov 09, 2021

Future nostalgia

A blast from the future
Very vaguely based on the SD20A profile drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop,
then mashed into an EMD251 by me @ my dining room table

In the 1990s, the supply of used first-generation Alcos started to run a little thin, so the MTRR shops (doing locomotive remanufacturing under the name “Iberville Locomotive Works”) started using 567'ed GP & SD machines as the base for the RSX51 locomotives.

This is one of the earlier demonstrators; it started as a wreck-damaged SD35, got a 3700HP 251F-16 instead of the 2500HP 567, had a low long hood fabricated from the remains of the SD35’s original long hood and redid the electrical to a more state of the art control package. After the obligatory year of testing on the LT&L’s south shore line (still not electrified!) and the MTRR, it was sent out on a demonstration tour of various industrial & terminal railroads (not many Alco strongholds left at this late date, and those that were left had their own shop crews that kept their machines running so didn’t have too much interest in a remanufactured 251 from a third party.) It was bought by the Vancouver(BC) Terminal Railway to replace a pair of elderly SD9s halfway through the demonstration tour, so it never returned to Québec from the tour, but spent the rest of its days shuffling cars around North Vancouver.

The RS-351, an actual commercial product offered by the MTRR’s Iberville shops

Iberville RS-351 prototype #461
Very vaguely based on the RS-27 profile drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop,
then mashed into a RS-351 by me @ my dining room table

After the two RS-151s, the two RS-251s, the FA-151, the RSD-551, the BLW251, and DL-109m #453, the MTRR shops were actually fairly confident that they could produce a locomotive that didn’t have to work exlusively around southern Québec while the shop crews hovered anxiously in the hall for the inevitable disaster.

So upper management called their bluff and said if you think you can do it, do it!

Concord(NH) Power & Light was in the process of decommissioning a coal power station (replacing it with a gas turbine) and didn’t need their plant switcher (a RS-3) anymore. When the MTRR shops caught wind of the sale, they bought the offending switcher, shipped it up to Canada, and did a complete remanufacturing job on it; it was cut down to the frame, and a new superstructure (sealed engineroom, low short hood & RS-11-style cab) was built, then filled with a 251F-8 (1800 HP; MLW had not been idle at improving the power profile of their 251 manufacturing process) and new control electronics) and then sent out on the MTRR & LT&L secondary lines for a year of not-too-horrifying testing, after which it did a demonstration tour around north america, coming back home to a delighted sales department, which had already received a dozen orders from various Alco holdouts.

Eventually this little niche of remanufacturing old Alcos branched out into remanufacturing old GMD/EMD and GE/GEC units, but that’s in the future. But here’s #461, freshly off the road from the demonstration tour and painted into blue + white so it can go into revenue service again.

Nov 07, 2021


PV&T class H electric (ex KCC #401)
source profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop, and the KCC 400 was drawn by me @ my dining room table

When KCC shut off the power on the electric railroad inside their Bingham Canyon mine, 5 of the 7 400 class 125 ton electrics were still undisposed of. Traffic levels were starting to inch up again in the NE and the PV&T was starting to feel a power pinch, so those 5 units were purchased (4 for operation, 1 –#406 – for spare parts), shipped back east, given a bit of work in the shops, then released onto the railroad for helper, trailing road locomotive (couldn’t lead because no toilet compartment!), and heavy switching service.

The mining locomotive-height cab is liked by the crews, even though getting up into that cab is not liked so much. When they arrived on the property, they still had the KCC’s catwalks along the sides of the hoods, which the safety department did not like at all; the catwalks were removed, leaving only the side ladders, which the crews loathed with an all-consuming passion, and then were replaced with actual walkways which were fine except it put these units well into overwide territory.

But the price was good, and it put a few more units into switching and banking service!

Nov 06, 2021

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

last minute mite

I was drawing locomotives, so time got away from me. Again. Dust Mite does not approve.

Nov 04, 2021

Just a summer camp

waste not, want not
source profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop, and the cabin was drawn by me @ my dining room table

After LT&L FB-1 #389 had the 244 yanked out, the Iberville shop crews got a little carried away when they built a roof to cover the gaping hole in the top of the carbody, and now it’s back in service as a summer camp down by the US border (at end of track on the now truncated B&Q line to Bangor.)

Nov 03, 2021

Hustle Muscle, PV&T style

class E2
source profiles drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop, and the locomotive profile was drawn by me (with a lot of cutting and pasting) @ my dining room table

The first of the Portland-built class E2 locomotives, outshopped in 1968 (just before the US economy went into the dumps for a decade) for the electrification of the LT&L’s north shore Montréal ↔ Québec line. This class of 6 locomotives didn’t stick to that line, but can be found pulling fast freights everywhere the PV&T has mainlines under wire.

5200 Kw (7000 HP), geared for 70mph, a 2× 5 minute power rating and a more sedate 1.5× hour rating, all, in the tradition of the class B units it’s descended from, on 4-wheel talgo-style trucks which can work their way around the curvier sections of the Green Mountain subdivision without messing up the track gauge.

Nov 01, 2021

Pour one out …

Pour one out for a short-lived passenger livery
PA-1 profile drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop

… for a short-lived passenger locomotive & a shorter-lived paint scheme.

The LT&L bought PA-1’s 700-703 from MLW in 1952, operated them through the PV&T merger in 1962, but traded them for C420s in 1966 as part of the great 244 purge. The arrow banner was designed in 1958, was adapted to the passenger blue+white+gold band paint scheme to be applied to the DL-109s & the PA-1s, but then vanished after the merger when the PA-1s were traded in (there are still a couple of RS-32s in the arrow paint, but on the freight version of the paint scheme.)

One anniversary locomotive deserves another

bicentennial B3
Template(s) drawn by Joshua Moldover, via The Railroad Paint Shop, and by myself, via my dining room table

The US bicentennial has a somewhat less restrained paint than the Canadian centennial did (What you don’t see is that the stars on the side of the carbodies are polished silver so they glitter in the sun.) And, following the lead of the Canadian scheme, the railroad name is nowhere to be found on the carbody – it’s not as if there are any other electrified railroads in northern New England, after all!

Class B3 #200 is actually #299 – #200 has never assigned to a locomotive because, for some odd reason, the class A’s started being numbered at 201? The PV&T could have left this locomotive at that road number, but no, in 1977 the road number went back to 299, though the paint job lasted another 4 years after that.


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