Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Special Duty Trifecta Part 1

Greetings Blog Followers,

The shop employees for the New York Central Train Layout continue their hard work and proud tradition of locomotive rebuilding excellence. The latest project undertaken by the shop forces is the rebuilding and repainting of three EMD Special Duty Units, two SD35s and an SD9. Here's some background on the prototype and the models.

Electro Motive Division Special Duty SD35: A six axle C-C version of the 2500 HP GP35 manufactured June 1964 to January 1966. 40 units were bought by the Pennsylvania Railroad number 6000 - 6039. Mostly used by the PRR and later Penn Central in and around the Allegheny Mountain range but liable to pop up on mainlines anywhere in the system.      

Electro Motive Division Special Duty SD9: A six axle C-C 1750 HP high hood locomotive that the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased in 1957-58 to the tune of 25 units. These units replaced 2-10-0 I1a's in yard and hump service and seldom saw mainline freight work. Originally number in the 7600 series they were renumbered into the 6000 series for the PRR NYC merger.

The models used for this project are two Atlas yellow box SD35s and one Atlas yellow box SD24. which is now being called an SD9 A Shop Bulletin was posted last month covering some of the the rebuilding of the SD24/SD9 and the SD35s. The units were all purchased second hand over a span of twenty plus years. The units were painted as follows: SD35  factory painted PC 6039, SD35 factory painted PRR 6003, SD9 custom painted NYC 9844.

The inspiration for the rebuilding / repainting project came from the Green Frog Penn Central Volume 2 preview video that featured an SD35 and SD9 consist pulling a freight train in the beginning and then at about the 6:22 mark. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jungbasfviY&index=16&list=WL )  I thought to myself that "Hey I can do that"! Off to the train room I went and after putting an SD35 SD9 together I didn't like what I saw (I also didn't like how they were running either!). The PC unit was not actually painted. The lettering and numbers were applied over the black plastic shell and the numbers were way to big. The PRR unit was weathered by a prior owner and the SD9 custom paint job looked good but the NYC never had an SD9 so that wasn't working for me with the new consist I wanted to put together. I wanted the consist to be consistent. That meant Penn Central. So after some research and a check of available Penn Central diesel decals that I have I was able to cobble up enough decals to do all three units.

The first SD35 SD9 test run after being shopped. 

The SD units have this freight train well in hand as they pose on the Empire City Viaduct.  

A little roof top dimple caused by an overheating light bulb.
Covered in last month's Shop Bulletin 

Over the viaduct and heading towards North Side Yard.

The 6039 and 6003 coupled up last summer when the 6003 joined the fleet. Note the size of the number on 6039. This will not do! 

The 6003 looks better in the picture than in person. Somewhat like the prototype the 6003 arrived in a dirty worn condition and will be spruced up with new paint and lettering

The units have been stripped and repainted. The Penn Central Power book by Robert J. Yanosey has become my bible for these projects. 

Don't be fooled by the Athearn Blue box. All units are from Atlas. The former 6003 was bought used with the blue box

The decals are cut and ready to go. Looks like we'll be adding SD9 6922, SD35 6024 and SD35 6018 to the roster. Numbers are accurate. SD35 6018 will wear the red "P" just like the prototype. 

That's it for part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.


  1. Nice work creating a "consistent consist"! I liked that! Cool reference to Yanosey's book. Its ridiculous that I haven't bought a copy yet! Looking forward to part 2!

  2. Thank You Ralph! "Consistent Consist" seemed to sum up the project in two words that modelers could identify with. Keep an eye out for Yanosey's book at your train shows. It was reprinted recently with a color insert (the one I have) but other than that I believe it is the same book as the original printing.

  3. I was hoping to find one at the State Fair show last moth but didn't see one. Maybe next time. There is one in the Fall.

    1. Keep your eye out for the Penn Central System Bi-Annual By Robert H. Reid mentioned below by Neal. Looks like an excellent resource.

  4. The book you referenced I though I had in my library. On further investigation, I found the book I have is the Penn Central System Bi-Annual By Robert H. Reid. The book has an illustrated list of engines on the roster and more. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank You Sir Neal! I just checked out the Penn Central System Bi-Annual By Robert H. Reidbook on Amazon. Very interesting and looks to be an excellent resource.