Mix of Uncle Pete and Espee

SP Patch 02-x

I first encountered the UP 6161 passing the grain elevator at Oak Harbor. I didn’t know it was coming until it showed up.

Coming into Graytown.

Coming into Graytown. We were able to get ahead of the train because it had to be talked by a signal that was on the fritz.

Passing the grain elevator in Graytown.

Passing the grain elevator in Graytown. The crew of this train would be banner tested a few miles west of here by an NS road foreman. It passed the test and went on its way.

There are well over 100 Union Pacific “patch” locomotives floating around America. They are units still wearing their original colors and markings, but which have received a UP roster number as a patch.

I don’t pay much attention to these patch jobs, but they are tracked on HeritageUnits.com. I suppose there are people who are seeking to collect all of them.

Most of the patch units are of Southern Pacific heritage, but there also are some of Chicago & North Western and Denver & Rio Grande Western vintage.

Every so often one of these patch units gets repainted and removed from HU.

I was out along the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern when I happened upon one of those UP patch jobs, the UP 6361 leading westbound 25E, an auto rack train.

It found it interesting that the 6361 has had its Southern Pacific markings painted over on the body, but not on the nose.

Red lettering reading “Union Pacific” has been applied over the light gray paint used to paint over the SP markings on the flanks.

There are, no doubt, some folks out there who despise patch jobs because the original colors and markings tend to be badly faded and the locomotive is a mish-mash of markings.

If so, UP 6361 is a good example of that. It sorta of looks like an Espee unit, but it has a strong UP identify that doesn’t quite look like UP.

I photographed No. 6163 at Oak Harbor because it was a train that happened to come along and because it is out of the ordinary.

Soon enough all of these SP patch units will be gone, although some might survive if stricken from the roster than then sold to locomotive leasing company which might rent it as is. In that case it would be a double patch.

Then again maybe 6163 will eventually be scrapped before it is repainted. Class 1 railroads have been retiring or furloughing large numbers of their locomotives in the past year because of falling traffic.

No. 6163 may is an “older” unit, having been built in 1995 as SP 101.

Perhaps the fate of No. 6163 (nee SP 101) has been or will be determined soon at a desk in Omaha.

When I last checked, the 6361 was still out working on the UP. It may or may not return some day to Ohio.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders



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