Dirty Diesels

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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Looking at recent photos posted up of the UP, I have to ask if the railroad is washing or repainting its diesels anymore? I have seen a lot of photos of faded and dirty diesels that seem out of place on the UP.

I might extend that question to cover the BNSF as well. When I worked in Chicago from 1987-91, the only time I recall seeing dirty or faded diesels on the old Santa Fe as I commuted on the Stevenson Freeway between the Loop and my home in Naperville was in the winter when temps hovering around 0* F probably precluded washing. I have lived in Edmonds, WA. in 1991 and see lots of dirty and faded BNSF diesels passing through town on the old Great Northern Seattle-Minneapolis mainline regardless of the season.

I think the cleanest diesels I now see are the KCS Southern Belle and NS units passing through town in BNSF freights. I realize that a diesel engine will perform the same whether it is clean or dirty, but I feel there is a certain PR value for a railroad to have clean, shiny units. If washing and repainting is being skipped, is other routine maintenance being skipped or delayed as well?

Someone here has commented that the BNSF does not do their own repainting, it is contracted out. Do the UP and other class I roads do that as well?
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At Niles Canyon Railway we have used a contractor who is repairing and repainting our locomotives and cars. One at a time of course as he does almost ALL of the work himself. Greg works from 9 hours to 12 hours a day or so sanding, repairing, priming, sanding the primer again and then placing three or four coats of PPG paint on each locomotive/car.

I can tell you this is a LOT of work and he is an exceptional painter. I have been following him (literally) and asking hundreds of questions (yes he probably charges us more :) because of me!).

His work is exceptional ....... the one part in rattle can primer shows the partial work he must do before sanding and preparing to paint the combine car.

You do not even want to know how much it costs to paint an entire locomotive especially when it is just one person doing the work.



Here are some locomotives I see on my trips around the USA....







South Dakota from the North Platte Observation Tower





One issue is the hazardous waste from washing oils and contaminants into the ground. Companies can easily be fined large amounts of money if they get ANY oil spilled into waterways or into the water table. That in itself might be a major reason along with costs of why most locomotives are filthy and in need of paint. Haz-Mat costs are OUTRAGEOUS for spills, getting rid of old oil, rags and such it is exorbitant.

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