Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Old, and New (well...rebuilt, anyway)

In the late 1970's Conrail took delivery of a fleet of General Electric B23-7 locomotives. These dominated the Albany Division in yard and local service during the later 1980's and into the era set on the Onondaga Cutoff - the 1990's. By this time, the B23's were becoming a ratty bunch, and so Conrail started to rebuild and then repaint them at its massive Juniata Shops in Altoona, PA.

On the Onondaga Cutoff, I work to model locomotives at different stages of weathering, reflecting photos from the era. Here, Onondaga Yard on a warm fall evening in 1995 finds 1987 and 1989 working side by side, classifying cars for outbound blocks:

Below is a closer view of 1989, with the Conrail specific details like the cab signal box and Leslie RS-3L horn, deck-mounted ditch lights, and a lack of sunshades:

And finally an image to communicate some of the tiny work that goes into detailing an HO scale locomotive, showing the metal casting ditch lights that I drilled out using #70 drill bits to accept the LEDs and their wires.

Conrail in the 1990's was a proud company that had come through a tough 15 years of demoralizing rationalization. But, part of that tough period was rebuilding the physical plant, and refurbishing a fleet of equipment - which developed a generation of railroad managers that defined the next 20 years of railroading in the Northeast.

And so it follows that some of the most ratty of the B23-7s were working next to freshly rebuilt B23-7's, and I have modeled that with Conrail 1987 wearing its 1979 paint, and with Conrail 1989 wearing its new ditch lights and 1995 paint. I enjoy weathering rolling stock and infrastructure, but when your era allows contrast, sometimes it provides as much interest as the weathering does.

Best wishes as the summer arrives!


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