EWG and the Tunnel Motor

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#1
Perhaps a more proper title for this post might be "Requiem for the 8925". SD45 8925 has recently developed turbo charger problems. The mechanical clutch will not disengage at higher rpm's with the result that the engine cannot be run beyond throttle 5. As the cost of turbo repair is quite high, and the SD45 is worth far more as parts than as a working locomotive, replacements are being considered.

One of the replacement possibilities being considered is ex UP 2891, built in July 1975 as D&RGW 5362. It is a "Tunnel Motor", classified by UP as an SD40T-2R, successively UP 4046, UP 8619, and finally UP 2891. It is currently owned by Western Rail as "WRIX 2891". Credit and thanks to UtahRails.net for the historical roster information.

EWG has been moving 110 car loaded grain trains with all 4 units working in the consist to get the train over the road and up the several steep grades on the line. The combination that seems to work the best is with 2 units on the point and GP7 1617 and a 3rd SD45 operating as a manned helper about half way back in the train. Currently only the short hood MU plug on the 1617 is working, so it is placed ahead of it's controlling SD45, nose to nose. Furthermore, 1617 lacks dynamic brakes and the ability to control a unit with dynamics, so it always needs to be a "trailing" unit, even if running ahead of it's controller. It is a tough little 1500hp GP7 and without it the train would likely have to double some of the hills; not an attractive option for a variety of reasons. One of the requirements of this particular service is that the loaded train must be available for BNSF pickup in Cheney 72 hours after the empties are delivered by them to EWG. This means that time is of the essence in making this work; not only for the guys who have to load all these cars, but for EWG to get the loads gathered and moved east into Cheney.

On 11/16/2010 the "gather" started in Coulee City with 31 loads. By the time we got to Wilbur, additional pickups at Hartline, Almira, and Govan had increased the train to 61 loads. 26 more were being added at Wilbur and the final 26 at Reardan for a total of 113 cars! Locomotives were re-arranged at Wilbur with 2891 and 8924 on the point with 1617 and 375 as mid-train helpers. We managed to get seemingly every dog in town barking at us as we swapped units around.

1) Here we see 375, 8924, 2891 and 1617 early in the morning. Unfortunately the 2891 had run out of fuel and was not running. 1617 was idling but could not be put online because of the bad long hood MU connection. So the 2 SD45s had to pull this train up the hill out of Coulee City and later, up Hanson hill, by themselves. They did it just fine. 2891 was fueled and started at Almira. With it online, rattlesnake grade was easily topped at 23 mph.

2) Now we are in Wilbur and the locos have been re-arranged. 1617 and 375 are on the rear 61 cars brought in from the west. 2891 and 8924 are gathering the 26 loads to be added at Wilbur.

3) Here is the completed train with 2891 and 8924 on the point.

4) Finally, here is the mid-train helper with 1617 and 375 as they leave Wilbur.

View attachment 110435 View attachment 110436 View attachment 110437 View attachment 110438

It is easier to photograph trains when you aren't running them! I should have taken some pictures between Coulee City and Wilbur but didn't have time.

I posted a short (4min 33sec) video of this train around Creston. Among other things, it shows 1617 working in MU with 375. Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnPOMTS_AJw
 
#2
We changed crews at Wilbur, so I was able to shoot a few pictures of the train east of Wilbur, as well as the video mentioned in the previous post.

5-6) At this remote crossing near MP 61 out in the woods east of Creston, we see first the 2891 and 8924 on the point and then 1617 and 375 as mid-train helpers.

7-8) The sun is setting as the train nears Davenport.

View attachment 110441 View attachment 110442 View attachment 110443 View attachment 110444

Thanks for looking and I hope you have enjoyed the latest from the Eastern Washington Gateway --- serving customers between Cheney WA and Coulee City WA.
 
#3
This has turned into quite the operation!! Mid-train helpers no less. This is a show worth going to see. How many more of these monster trains are you going to be handling this season? Is this a once a week operation?

Thanks for posting.
 

SDP45

Abandoned line seeker
#5
Bruce,
I just missed you guys at Coulee City on Tuesday! You were pulling through Odair as I was coming into town, and I had an appointment so I could not catch up with you.

I caught one of the trains from Coulee City on October 4 with just the 1617 as the pusher. Neato stuff.

1. The EWG had an interesting load back on October 16. A large transformer for Grand Coulee Dam.

2. On October 8, the WRIX 2891 made its first appearance at Coulee City.

3. Pulling hard at Odair on Oct. 8.

4. Oct. 7 view of the 1617 from the 375.
 

ciron28

I just pull levers.
#8
When I used to work on the IMRL I would commonly get those 8900's. We had the 8905, 8918, 8924, 8925, 8936, 8940, and 8941. I always thought they were great pullers. We nicknamed them the "gray ghosts".

Travis
 
#9
How often does EWG run out to Coulee City? Last spring ran into a train coming out of Coulee City but most of the time I go through this area it I rarely see cars any sign of activity around the grain elevators.
 
#11
We call these trains "Co-Loads", ie cooperative loads. They are managed by Central Washington Grain Growers. They are usually 110 cars but this one was 113 cars. We have to meet the inbound BNSF crew and pick the empty up in Cheney and immediately take it west to Medical Lake where we have the EWG power staged. The BNSF dash-9s are then cut off, run into the siding, and EWG power backs onto the train. After we clear the switch the BNSF power then returns to Cheney lite. The empties are spotted at the various elevators on the CW line as per CWGG requirements.

When the loaded train returns to Cheney it is staged at Jensen road, just north of Cheney. The mid-train helpers are cut out at Geiger Jct and the BNSF dash-9s are put on the train there. The EWG power will then either go lite into Cheney or stay behind at Geiger Jct, depending on when BNSF will be picking up this train. As long as it is available for pickup within the 72 hour requirement, we have met our obligation. In the case of this particular train, BNSF was not able to pick the train up until Friday afternoon. We cleaned all our cars out of Cheney and took them out to Geiger Jct so we could still work our line without our power being trapped in front of this co-load train.

Sometimes the inbound BNSF power stays in Cheney until the outbound train comes back, and other times they pick it up and then deliver a different set of power for the outbound loaded train. With this particular train, they left the inbound 2 units (4513 and 4965) in Cheney. However this wouldn't be enough to drag 15,000 tons up Providence hill, so they dropped off a 3rd unit (4423) in Cheney Friday morning. Since it was headed west, we added it to the point of the train.

How many more of these monster trains are you going to be handling this season? Is this a once a week operation?
Jon, These co-load trains seem to be running about once a month. The next one is expected around Dec 1st, but could slip back by several days. Furthermore, due to contractors working on track and right-of-way, we sometimes are running the trains at night.

When I used to work on the IMRL I would commonly get those 8900's. We had the 8905, 8918, 8924, 8925, 8936, 8940, and 8941. I always thought they were great pullers. We nicknamed them the "gray ghosts".
Travis - The "gray ghosts" name stuck and that is how they are known on EWG. I am constantly amazed at how they pull. I suspect that MRL tweeked them a bit above 3600 hp. They have been good locos.

How often does EWG run out to Coulee City? Last spring ran into a train coming out of Coulee City but most of the time I go through this area it I rarely see cars any sign of activity around the grain elevators.
They seem to run on an as-needed basis.
This is the first time that I have been down to Coulee City since last summer.

Andrew - Dan summed it up best. We run when the customers need us to. The grain business is complex and the grain moves depend upon market conditions and many other factors. The bottom line is that all we as a shortline have to offer our customers is good service and all of us at the EWG do our very best to do just that.

Here are some pictures of yesterdays (11/19/2010) activities:

1) The train is staged at Jensen Rd just north of Cheney with 3 BNSF dash-9s, 4423, 4513, 4965. We could not get the BNSF "fred" to arm and so the BNSF Trainmaster brought another one out. It armed right away.
2) Finally underway
3) Changing crews at the mainline switch in Cheney. I was proud of myself that I managed to get this 15,000 ton monster stopped right where the BNSF crew was standing.
4) Into the setting sun west of Babb

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And finally, here is a link to a YouTube video showing this train heading west on the BNSF. West of Babb and into the setting sun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhdcdFXMwEw
 
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PEIR

Hammerhead Pusher
#12
Thanks for sharing the photos and explaining how the EWG's operates. Is it really cheaper to pick up another unit instead of repairing or replacing the 8925's turbo?
 

SDP45

Abandoned line seeker
#13
I suspect a grain train of some sort will be running soon, as Coulee City was primed with empties hoppers when I went through today.
 
#14
Planned to dp Coulee City 9-10am 11/21. Pickups at Hartline, Almira, Wilbur, Creston, then straight through to Cheney Sunday evening. Likely to change crews at Davenport.
 


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