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Nostalgia & History > Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass


Date: 11/07/17 05:51
Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: ATSF5964

Back in the early Nineties, the Espee was at times awash in rented power, at least in California. These ran the gamut from fairly clean and reliable to grubby "rent-a-wrecks". One would think that power would be assigned to duties in line with their ability- but perhaps not. On a fine spring morning in 1994, I caught a trainload of mostly empty hoppers departing Roseville for the steep grades of Donner Pass. The consist was SP 8244, followed by leased units MK 9402, NRL 3095, and EMD 812. The train seemed to be doing fine as it roared through Rocklin, but by the time Applegate was reached, the bloom was off the rose and the rental power was in trouble. The 9402, an ex-CNW SD40, had shut down and the 3095, an ex-UP SD40, was either off-line or only partly loading. The train was still making time- sort of- but it was clear that it would take more than a tunnel motor and a GP38 to get up the hill. Help was on the way, however. The crew of the SP 6845 West had been prevailed upon to donate a unit to the cause, and they cut off from their train east of Colfax and pulled the power down into town to lend assistance. And what assistance it was- the SSW 7787, a unit whose presence on Donner Pass was a mystery in itself...
Once the 8244 East limped into Colfax, the laborious task of adding the 7787 to the consist began. Just coupling to it turned out to be a world-class challenge; I recall at least five attempts. In the meantime, a machinist and electrician from Roseville had arrived and began the task of resuscitating the two SD40s, since the 3095 had by now also shut down. It was discovered that the batteries were dead on one of the wrecks and locating and rousing out the jumper cables turned into an all-hands evolution- somewhere about then I decided it was time to go and eat. After a long while, the repairs were complete and the 8244 East departed Colfax without fanfare. I thought that given the amount of trouble they went through, a brass band accompaniment should have been more appropriate. Defying the conductor's gloomy forecast, they made Sparks!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/17 05:46 by ATSF5964.

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Date: 11/07/17 06:52
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: sp8234

I wonder if the two SD40s were cores & part of the 133 unit order from MK. Didn't MK send cores that ran to SP & as rebuilt units were delivered or the core quit running they would go to MK to be rebuilt?
Nice video!!

Tim



Date: 11/07/17 12:52
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: AlcoRSD15

Great stuff as usual, Mark!
- E.B.



Date: 11/07/17 14:38
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: sp3204

Oh the memories, not always good! While working in engine service out of Tucson until late '89, then going back
to Roseville I experienced many of these rent-a-wrecks. The ones that come immediately to mind were the NHL
units (Norman Helm Leasing if memory serves). Most the guys working with these things coined the NHL, not
hardly loading...of course there was the weight on drivers for pay even if it was 400,000 pounds of dead
steel.



Date: 11/07/17 15:49
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: BoostedFridge

Great story and video!



Date: 11/07/17 19:37
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: norm1153

Excellent! A story told by video, and stabilized (tripod) camcorders! Not to mention a great editing job as well.
Thanks!



Date: 11/08/17 01:56
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: Chooch

Kinda looks like you should title this video as "GE TO THE RESCUE".

Jim
Hatboro, PA



Date: 11/08/17 08:19
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: gaspeamtrak

Timeless ! Wonderful video ! Thank you for sharing !!! :):):)



Date: 11/08/17 11:05
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: Matt_Gidley

Very cool - thanks for sharing!



Date: 11/08/17 16:49
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: FiestaFoamer

Very cool. That ex-CNW SD40 was originally a CGW unit -- the ones CNW purchased new lacked dynamic brakes.



Date: 11/08/17 18:07
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: fresno

The "baby-boat" to the rescue. Sure miss seeing those units running on the Sunset Route years ago, but don't think I ever saw one on Donner back in the SP days.

Great stuff and thanks for the post.



Date: 11/08/17 22:28
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: Fizzboy7

A supreme delight to watch! Very, very well written. This could easily be on a DVD and watched in the comfort of an over-stuffed living room chair.

So once again, the old reliable tunnel motor came through. Always the backbone of the fleet and unsung hereo.

Wouldn't it had made more sense to pull the B30-7 off the light power, bring it to the ailing consist, and add it to the front of the 8244? Seems like the way they did it added many extra steps. Maybe this B-boat was not allowed to be a leader.

Also note the "wobble" of the EMD Lease GP38 as they make a somewhat hard coupling.

Very rare to see an ex-UP SD40 in lease to the SP. I don't think that unit lasted long before being rebuilt.

Lastly, most of SP's rent-a-wrecks of that era did not spend much time over Donner. They were more at home along the Sunset Route and over Tehachapi.

Thanks so much for posting this. If you have more, please share at once!



Date: 11/09/17 09:24
Re: Rent-a-wrecks over Donner Pass
Author: Betsy

Fizzboy7 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Wouldn't it had made more sense to pull the B30-7
> off the light power, bring it to the ailing
> consist, and add it to the front of the 8244?
> Seems like the way they did it added many extra
> steps. Maybe this B-boat was not allowed to be a
> leader.

I wonder why they just didn't use the GP60.

Elizabeth



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