Sunday, February 22, 2015

SPSF: "Shouldn't Paint So Fast!"

Whenever I had to go down the I-5 from Portland to California for either business or pleasure, I deliberately planned to lay over at Railroad Park in Dunsmuir. It was about half way to the Bay Area, which made it an excellent place to enjoy a cool one, watch some mountain railroading, whilst spending the night in either a boxcar, caboose, or foreman's cabin, and enjoy good food in the Park dinning car.

For gawds sake - what more could a person wish for?

My companion and I enjoyed an old fashioned breakfast in the dining car at Railroad Park, and drove over to the station at Dunsmuir, arriving just in time to catch a northbound freighter.

This place is so wonderfully accessible and accepting of rail buffs, as long as you keep out of the way. I think some of these crews checked their make-up before the rolling crew change took place!

SP 8530 (SD40-2T) and her cohorts had spent the morning working up 2,000 feet (610 meters) from the Sacramento Valley, shoulders against the 1.3% gradient at Dunsmuir Station, 322.1 miles (518 km) north of Roseville, where a rolling crew change would take place.

The lead locomotive is a dash-T "Tunnel Motor." Tunnel motors were built to reduce shutdowns caused by overheating whilst operating in tunnels in mountainous areas in the western United States.

The locomotive is modified so that radiator-cooling air intake is lowered to the walkway level, and the cooling fans themselves moved under the radiator cores, instead of on top. Notice the "blanks" welded to the former intakes.

The paint scheme, combining yellow, red and black, came to be called the Kodachrome paint scheme due to the color's resemblance to those on the boxes that Kodak used to package its Kodachrome 35mm slide film, which favored by rail fans of the time because of slow ASA and crisp color accuracy.

On July 24, 1986, the merger between Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was formally denied. But so confident that the merger would be approved, approximately 306 AT&SF locomotives, 4 AT&SF cabooses, 10 AT&SF slugs, 96 SP locomotives, and 1 SP caboose were painted in the new "Kodachrome" paint scheme. Spacing was left to add either "SP" or "SF" on rolling stock when the merger was approved!

The two railroads made a frantic effort to repaint locomotives in their standard paint schemes when the merger was denied. Santa Fe repainted all Kodachrome's still on roster by 1990, though some engines "escaped" - were sold, in Kodachrome "SF," scheme!

Rail fans joked that "SPSF" stood for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast!"

12,800 hp on the nose, another 9,000 hp on the rear!
Once the crew change was executed, the northbound crew faced a grueling climb up through 2.1% at the Cantera Loop past Mt. Shasta to the Cascade Mountain Crest at Grass Lake, elevation 5,073 ft (1,546 meters) at MP 368.5. Thence across the Moduc Plateau to Klamath Falls, ascending the Coast Range at Willamette Pass, continuing north to Eugene and Portland.

Railroad Stuff:
• Southern Pacific 8530, Built as General Motors SD40-2, 3,000 hp (2,237 kW), December 1978. SN: 786174-32. Modified as SD40-2T, April 13, 1991. Became UP 8836, 9/1996. Retired 2001.
• Southern Pacific 9686, built as General Motors GP60, 3,800 hp (2,800 kW), March 1990, SN: 8960022. Became UP 1988, 9/1996. Retired 2001.

See Also: 

Google Railroading, analyzing the Cantara Loop.
Robert Morris Photography features a treasure trove of Southern Pacific at Dunsmuir, they way we wish to remember it!

3 Comments - Click here: said...

you make the details of a seemingly simple paint job on locomotives so interesting we would never know what goes on behind scenes if you didn't apprise us of the stories that make railroading so fascinating. thanks again said...

Robert, I have lost your email address & cannot use your mail link. What is the present status of Bertha, the drilling machine stuck in Seattle? Always love your postings, amazing that these engines were painted so preemptively!

Unknown said...

I fully get why you'd want Kodachrome, it's a beautiful film. But why such a low ASA? You'd have to open up the aperture. Is that the point? Is it a depth of field thing? I've shot low ASA before, but I mostly shoot landscapes.


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