Posts Tagged ‘B&O 4553’

What an Interesting History This Unit Has Had

October 29, 2019

EMD E units and F units were once commonly assigned to passenger and freight trains in Northeast Ohio.

Even in the early Conrail era of the late 1970s F units were standard motive power.

But today those units largely have been scrapped or relegated to museums or tourist railroads.

Shown is a Chessie System freight headed by Baltimore & Ohio F7A No. 4553 near Voris Street in Akron in mid-1973. It is passing beneath the Thornton Street Bridge.

B&O/Chesapeake & Ohio F units were becoming unusual by the time that this image was made.

This particular unit has had an interesting history. It was built in 1951 as No. 293A before being renumbered 4553 in 1957.

It continued to work for the B&O/C&O for more than another decade before being sold on May 5, 1975, to Morrison-Knudsen.

No. 4553 sat idle in Boise, Idaho, for a few years before being rebuilt into an all purpose control unit for push-pull service.

In the process its prime mover was removed and replaced by a 6 cylinder  Cummins Diesel engine connected to a generator to create 480 volts of electricity for head-end power to passenger cars.

The traction motors were removed and replaced with idler wheel sets. Most of the unit’ accessories, including the control stand, toilet, sand boxes and lights, were left intact.

The car body received repairs and was painted orange and silver in the livery of its next operator, Maryland Area Rail Commuter. MARC gave the unit roster No. 7100.

Now a passenger unit, No. 7100 was released from the M-K shops on April 10, 1981, and delivered to Washington for revenue service.

M-K also rebuilt four other F7A units for the Maryland Department of Transportation for MARC service, but those locomotives retained their original prime movers.

Those four MARC units were later traded back to M-K for credit on an order for five rebuilt GP39-W locomotives in the 1990s.

No. 7100 in the meantime was removed from service in late 1998 due to deterioration. By that time it had been relegated to backup service.

But it wasn’t done yet. MARC management decided to rebuild No. 7100 yet again so back to Boise it went. By then M-K had been renamed Boise Locomotive.

The rebuild took place over the next year and cost $900,000, a sum that raised a few eyebrows as to whether it was a worthwhile investment to make on a locomotive that had been built in the early 1950s.

The rebuilding involved replacing components with their modern counterparts, including a Cummins KTA19G4 6-cylinder diesel engine to drive the generator creating HEP.

No. 7100 received cab signals so it could operate on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor if needed.

Also installed was a PULSE III event recorder and idler wheels with “self adjusting single head brakes.”

A new Q-TRON computer controlled wheel slip\slide system managed the braking effectiveness with individual censors on each wheel.

The traditional control stand was replaced with a newer model EMD control stand.

The 7100 arrived in Baltimore in August 1999 ready for revenue service.

It was donated to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore in 2010 where it sits today.

Photograph by Robert Farkas