• Question about B&M RDCs after the blizzard '78

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by p42thedowneaster
I'm modeling the late B&M/early MBTA years following the great blizzard...a time when many of the aging RDCs were being operated with GP7s for assistance. (These cars still had working diesel power for the hotel systems, but lacked reliable propulsion).

The railroad shops came up with a clever system that allowed the RDCs to link with EMD GP7s to accomplish limited push-pull service.

My question is...
Did any other locomotive type work with the (non-Bosie Rebuild) RDCs in this manner? Specifically were any B&M GP38-2s ever paired with them, and if so was there any regularity to that arrangement in service?
  by edbear
I was working for the B & M during that time. Right after the Blizzard, RDCs were towed by any available motive power. Since freight schedules went out the window for a week or so, I am aware that a GP-38 did tow a set of RDCs on the Fitchburg. However, once the Kierstead connection was perfected and put into use the GP-7s appear to have been the only motive power used to work with RDC sets. Maybe the electrical connections were specifically designed for the GP-7s. (I also saw a Jordan Spreader in use on the Fitchburg Route a week or so after the Blizzard.)
  by TomNelligan
Initially, once things settled down after the blizzard, the depowered Budd consists ran with GP7s only, but later they commonly ran with FP-10s and with the various secondhand GP9s that the MBTA acquired in the early 1980s, and once these locomotives were acquired the GP7s went back into freight service.

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While the damage caused by the February 1978 blizzard was the main impetus for returning the B&M GP7s to commuter service, there were two GP7/Budd/GP7 sets in use earlier that winter, one on the Lowell line and one on the Eastern Route. These ran with a GP7 at each end since the MU compatibility had not yet been developed.
  by p42thedowneaster
Thanks so much to you both for the information! It's a shame that the GP38s were not often used with RDCs...they look nice together!

Going back to the GP7s. Did these locomotives have any marker lights for push mode? Did they use the class lights or dim headlamps instead?
  by jbvb
I don't recall any modifications to the GP-7s while they were pushing/pulling RDCs. I believe the class lights were lit red while trailing, but I doubt it was universal. Not may employees out on the line to notice.
  by Engineer Spike
All the EMD road power had the same MU jumpers. I’m sure the GP7 fleet was used was because their usefulness in freight was somewhat limited. The units were ordered with only small fuel tanks since they also had to carry boiler water. They were also least powerful. I’m sure that every effort was made to keep the 1700, 1750, 200, and 300 classes where they could be of most use, which was freight.
  by edbear
Yes, the 1555 series GP-7s were chosen to tow the RDCs after the 1978 blizzard.
  by arthur d.
I'll bet that big train lighting equipment box at the end of the long hood had something to do with it.
  by Engineer Spike
The lighting boxes had nothing to do with the Budds. Not all even had the lighting equipment. Like I said before, why would the company waste a GP9, 18, 38, or 40 on a passenger train? The GP7 fleet was the most logical to use. I’m sure that in a pinch any road power could be used. I’ve seen pictures of bluebirds in commuter service. As mentioned, the GP7 had limited range in freight, due to small fuel tanks. I’m fairly sure that they weren’t ballasted that heavily, so they couldn’t pull as much. They also had the smallest horsepower rating. Who knows if any got higher rated traction motors. You’ll notice that the typical GP7 assignment both before and after their commuter assignments was primarily local freight. Occasionally they did run the road on the Conn River, or elsewhere, but only as a stopgap, if there was nothing else available.

in the 1980s most of the tower Budds had been sidelined, but there might have been a few sets. As many know, I’m a D&H engineer. Under Guilford ownership, our roster was merged with B&M’s. We had a few guys forced to Boston. One of them told me that the special jumper was used. This allowed the mu system of the Budds to be able to control any locomotive through its 27 pin mu socket. The Budd controller had 4 notches, and it could only run the locomotive in certain of its 8 notches. My colleague told me that throttle 7 was the top notch which the Budd controller would allow.