EMD SD45 7440

Daily Post: Twenty Cylinders in 2013

Finding an old EMD Locomotive at Work Near its Birth Place.

Followers of Tracking the Light may have noticed that I have a penchant for Electro-Motive Division 20-Cylinder diesels. Not only have I featured these in many of my books, but also they have made regular appearances in my Daily posts.

In 2013, true 20-cylinder EMD locomotives have become really rare machines. Many of the surviving SD45/SD45-2 locomotives have been ‘de-rated’ and are now actually powered by variations of the 16-cylinder 645 engine.

Not that this difference really affects the photos, but for the purest, a true 20-cylinder locomotive has no match. For me, it’s the sound that makes the difference.

When I lived in California, Southern Pacific and Santa Fe both still had substantial fleets or 20 cylinder diesels. These days there are probably more old EMD F units in daily service than 20-cylinder 645s. (Maybe? Anyone know?)

Last week (Tuesday November 12, 2013), John Gruber and I were driving from Madison, Wisconsin toward Chicago to meet Chris Guss and Pat Yough. Chris rang me before lunch to say that an Illinois Railnet freight was ready to depart BNSF’s Eola Yard and had an old SP SD45 in the lead. A real SD45.

EMD SD45 7440
While not the prettiest locomotive, Illinois Railnet’s ex SP SD45 was worth the drive.
I even exposed a slide with my dad’s Leica M4. This photo was made with my Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. I was balanced on a rock in the Fox River to get just the right angle. Nice to have the sun too!

I stepped up the pace, and with creative driving and some vital landing instructions from Chris and Pat, John and I arrived at the old Burlington bridge over the Fox River west of Aurora just in time to catch this relatively obscure Chicago-land freight railroad at work. I owe this image to teamwork and the ability to react quickly. Hurray!

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