Why is BNSF not repainting their old diesel locomotives to the new paint scheme?

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punchy71

New Member
Greetings,
I did a little casual rail fanning today and saw a Santa Fe diesel in the old blue and yellow paint scheme in a yard. I think it was a four axle road switcher of some type but I'm not for sure because I was doing the spying after dark =)

I also saw in the same yard a green SW-1500 switcher wearing the old green and black paint scheme that Burlington Northern used to have. This one was slightly modified by the deletion of the "Burlington Northern" script and logo being supplanted by a rather generic looking "BNSF" script in its place instead.

Anyway, I thought these old paint schemes were supposed to be long ago obsolete and re-painted over by now. Why is BNSF not repainting some of their fleet? And why are they painting over and changing the wording and logo on the old green Burlington Northern diesels while at the same time leaving alone the old blue and yellow "Santa Fe" scripts and paint schemes intact and in place?

And while were at it, what is this ugly "pumpkin paint scheme" the BNSF now sports called anyway? I call it the pumpkin paint scheme because that's what it looks like- pumpkin orange lower area with a pumkin green upper area...

I've also seen a separate weird dark puke forest green and off-white (ivory white color perhaps?) combo livery of some kind their using too... I don't know what that's all about..

Thank you
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Repainting older units is obviously not a priority with the BNSF. Some units are being "patched" with a BNSF stencil and new number if the unit is being renumbered from its old, pre-merger number. With the purchase of new diesels, BNSF is renumbering some of its older units.

The orange BNSF paint schemes are known as "Heritage" schemes because their colors are reportedly drawn from the paint schemes of the old Northern Pacific (dark green) and Great Northern (orange) railroads. The first Heritage scheme (H1) had a wagon wheel type logo. H2 had a Santa Fe cigar band type logo while H3 has the current "swoop" logo.

The dark green and cream scheme was used exclusively on EMD units (SD70MACs?) purchased for use on coal trains by the BN. With the purchase of new units, these units are now showing up in the general freight pool. That paint scheme is referred to as "Grinstein green" (after a company president) or the "executive" paint scheme, as the BN executive train and the F units assigned to it were painted in a similar scheme for a period of time.
 

GE Power

New Member
Yeah, and why does UP keep using that old yellow we are all so tired of? With that ancient shield on the front, yet. And the US flags getting dirty and tattered on the sides. Should be illegal.

And don't get started on NS. Black with a horse? You can't even see the things in the dark. And why a horse? Are they still living the days of pulling barges up the Erie Canal by horse?

Then there is CSX. What a mish-mash of color. They aren't even worth discussing.

You are welcome
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
The UP's armor yellow paint scheme is the oldest railroad paint scheme in continuous use in the US, so I doubt it will be dropped any time soon. Kudos to UP and NS for their commemorative and heritage diesels. I don't know if the Kansas City Southern is a class I, but I think its Southern Belle units have the best looking paint scheme in the US.

Of the class 1 railroads, BNSF is probably the worst at not repainting older units with badly worn paint jobs, which has prompted my comments about the war(p) bonnet paint scheme. I find that ironic as the old ATSF was famous for keeping its diesels clean and shiny. The pre-merger roads of the BNSF had some very good paint schemes which would look nice on modern diesels, but all we get from BNSF in the way of heritage equipment is pre-merger logos and road names slapped on freight cars plus the lone GN caboose in Seattle.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
The bottom line is that railroads are a business and exist for other reasons than to make railfans happy. We are more emotionally oriented (“it’s what I grew up with”) than practical or what is well designed. If it’s that important, go get hired and work your way up….. ;)

Repainting engines costs money. Lots and lots of money. Railroads management keeps their jobs by pleasing stockholders not railfans. The only reason to repaint an engine is if it makes economic sense to do so, like retaining value or some rather esoteric marketing reasons. The older ATSF engines are so old and worthless that repainting would be good money thrown away. A repaint would cost more than the engine is worth. Accountants have problems with that. Stockholders REALLY have problems with that. Which for us railfans is nice as it at least allows us to see the Warbonnets even if they look pretty ratty. A ratty Warbonnet is still be best paint scheme ever. Period.

BN was a very confused railroad, as evidenced by their poorly executed mergers in the past that led to various management upheavals and eventual buy-out (and stabilization) by Berkshire-Hathaway (Warren Buffet’s holding company). I’ve been thru many mergers and acquisitions and those that worked were where everyone quickly got on board with the new company and quit making with the us vs them crap. Prior to merging ATSF into the fold, they had a long history of poorly conceived paint schemes with half-hearted and miserably executed schemes with some engines getting one scheme and different ones getting something else. Executive, Tiger Stripes, White face….. ad nauseum. Pick one and go, there weren’t any all that bad (or great depending on your opinion). This confusion reigned supreme when ATSF came into play. Imho where BNSF screwed up was trying to appease ALL the merged companies with an ill-conceived ‘all-inclusive’ paint scheme (or 2 or 3) that managed to make no one happy and everyone mad. I read a story that they really wanted to keep the ATSF scheme with a simple change to the logo from ‘ATSF’ to ‘BNSF’, but that too many old GN folks balked. The Warbonnet is probably the single most recognizable railroad scheme in history and has monstrous value still. The current BNSF scheme is truly a design by committee and proves the old adage that anyone can break something but to really screw it up takes a committee. It photographs well, however…. Artistically I find it a bit overly complex altho it has improved in small steps since the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] abomination. It grows on me.

UP on the other hand has never pretended to be inclusive in the corporate identity. They are big-time protective in copyright and trademarking. You are not merged, you are absorbed lock, stock and barrel and logo. They have (IMHO) one of the best schemes ever, with simple updates and revisions over time. Any changes are well thought thru and incorporated meticulously. They never pretended to want to include SP, MP, MKT or any of the others they absorbed. Then when they decided to do the Heritage schemes, all of those were amalgams and not exactly like any of the old schemes. It is very telling (to some merciful…) that the Heritage units actually borrowed more from older schemes like MP’s Eagle and SP’s Daylight than their final schemes.
Wise move. Rust Grey and Scarlet and especially Jenks Blue were universally known as paint schemes inspired by bankruptcy; ie, cheap, inexpensive and lowest cost…..They’re what I grew up with but really they were pretty awful. Even the DRGW legacy script SP logo was pretty sad and considering that DRGW bought SP but only kept the font of the logo says a lot. How bad is your paint scheme if you toss it for Rust Grey and Scarlet? Personally I thought DRGWs was a bit better, but they didn’t ask me. Besides, repainting the relatively few DRGW engines was a lot cheaper than repainting the much larger SP fleet.

NS use of the horse logo is very historical and a tie-in to their “thoroughbred” performance marketing focus and mostly a carryover from the predecessor NW. It makes sense. And imho is a darn good scheme. Simple is good. Visibility is provided by federally mandated reflective tape and ditch lights, not paint schemes. CSX? Also simple, also pretty good. Personally not a fan of the darker blue but it works. Strong corporate identity factor and nothing says The South like blue and grey.

KCS was an artistic nightmare (more off than white? Seriously? Or 18% dull grey? Snooze….) until the Belle scheme, which again IMHO is probably the best out there currently. They actually LOOK successful. FMX has benefited tremendously from their UP influence and even manages to have a bit of Mexican patriotism tossed in, and tired old TFM finally got a non-4[SUP]th[/SUP]-world paint scheme when KCS turned them into KCS de Mexico which also has the Belle scheme. Kudos to them. Personally the KCS/KCSdM are my favorites to photograph.
 
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GE Power

New Member
Well, what do you know. My sarcastic post did what I hoped it would do. Stirred up at least a little discussion here. This used to be a great website, but something happened. It kind of died. Maybe this is typical of lots of internet discussion sites. They just kind of run down.

Railfans tend to be about as negative and critical as any group I know. I don't know if that makes me sad or mad. As Ken said, railroads aren't here for out pleasure. So why not enjoy a train going by without calling it "putrid"?
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
........ Repainting engines costs money. Lots and lots of money. Railroads management keeps their jobs by pleasing stockholders not railfans. The only reason to repaint an engine is if it makes economic sense to do so, like retaining value or some rather esoteric marketing reasons. The older ATSF engines are so old and worthless that repainting would be good money thrown away. A repaint would cost more than the engine is worth. Accountants have problems with that. Stockholders REALLY have problems with that. .......
Some railroads have benefited from holding virtual monopolies over their customers to the extent that the railroad is not dependent on public image to generate or retain business. Compare railroads to the private parcel business where companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, and others openly compete against each other in the same geographic markets.

If a private parcel shipper showed up at your home or business with a dirty, beat up, faded vehicle driven by a slovenly looking individual, you might have second thoughts about trusting your packages to that company. The rational is that if the company does not care about its public image, it might not care about other facets of its business such as timely delivery and customer satisfaction. You are, however, free to seek out other parcel shipping companies for your home or business.

On the other hand, if an industry or business is served by a siding off railroad X, in most markets that business has no other rail shipping options. While a beat up switch engine with a faded, peeling paint job may not be indicative of poor service by the railroad, it certainly does not present an image of modern efficiency.

Public perception of the rail industry as a whole is also important at this time of public and political debate concerning the safety of rail transportation of hazardous materials such as unrefined crude oil. A "trust us and support the status quo" response by the railroads will carry more weight if the public perception of the industry is not defined by views of battered, beat-up equipment rolling past grade crossings.
 
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EMDGP30

Active Member
I realize that locomotives are machines that don't have 'feelings' or 'thoughts', but I can't help but wonder what a worn out SD40-2/or Dash 7/8, pulled from mainline service, would 'think' of the new SDs & ACs that have taken their place.

It is bad enough that they no longer get the maintenance they used to get, but it has to sting just a little to be relegated to being yard goats. At least they are still working instead of being turned into razor blades or hub caps.

Hopefully a few of the SD40 & -2s will be preserved; they have earned it!!
 

one_wire

UP Sparky
Yeah, and why does UP keep using that old yellow we are all so tired of? With that ancient shield on the front, yet. And the US flags getting dirty and tattered on the sides. Should be illegal.
Because there's nearly 7,000 units in the fleet and only a couple of paint shops in the system. I definitely agree with the statement about the flag. As a veteran and UP employee, it pisses me off when I see a flag that's so burnt up or covered in graffiti you can't even tell what it is.


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one_wire

UP Sparky
It is bad enough that they no longer get the maintenance they used to get, but it has to sting just a little to be relegated to being yard goats. At least they are still working instead of being turned into razor blades or hub caps.

Hopefully a few of the SD40 & -2s will be preserved; they have earned it!!
Quite the contrary. I work in a locomotive shop and can tell you first hand that the Jeeps and Meeps get just as much attention as their 4,400 horsepower bigger brothers. As a matter of fact, my company recently put into service nearly 2,000 previously retired GE Dash 8 and 9's, as well as a bunch of old SD60's. The SD40's are getting overhauled for more local run use, and a lot of GP-38's are being rebuilt and used as remote control units in the yards. Not to mention that EVERY locomotive in our fleet is getting PTC installed on it...



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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Thanks, UP Sparky. Good to hear from a real railroader. Are the older, 2nd generation units harder or easier to maintain than the newer, computerized high tech units?
 

one_wire

UP Sparky
It depends sometimes. The 4,400's, EVOs, and newer SD70's are all computerized and basically tell you what's wrong. The older dogs are pretty cool as well because it gives you a chance to hone in on your old-school troubleshooting skills.


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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
How is the availability of parts for older units? If you have been following my MP 18 thread, you know that rebuilt GP30's pass through my town on locals and MoW extras.
http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?29675-Mile-Post-18-news

I find it hard to believe that the car bodies, frames, trucks, and prime movers of those rebuilt GP30's are nearly 50 years old. In a few more years the SD40's and SD40-2's will be approaching the half century mark as well.
 

one_wire

UP Sparky
I haven't noticed a huge lag time when requesting parts for the old dogs. A lot of them are rebuilt or are now made by third party companies. As a matter of fact, we just finished installing PTC on an SD40N that was originally built in 1966.


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Midsouth fan

Engr/'duc/brkmn/DS
It's the typical life cycle of a locomotive:

Birth: brand new everything, latest advanced technology, highest horsepower rating, new paint, always pulling the most important trains. Loved by crews.

Mid-life: everything begins to wear, technology may be upgraded, horses get tired, paint dulls, relegated to trailing a consist. Tolerated by crews.

Near death: frequent visits/stays in shop, technology is now "old school", horses are absent, paint peels or rusts, put on locals or in yards. Hated by crews.

Death: either the scrapper's torch or physical restoration by historical society.
 
I wish the Big New Santa Fe would do what UP and NS have done and have a true heritage fleet. I have grown sick of the pumpkin puke locos. They are just plain ugly.
 

GE Power

New Member
Come to think of it, BNSF has the only true heritage fleet of the class ones:

Three variations of the latest pumpkin puke.
Untold variations of the BN green and black (counting white stripes, white face, tiger stripes, etc.).
Hundreds of "Executive" SD70MACs.
Transition war bonnets with BNSF on the car body sides in at least two different sizes.
Original Santa Fe war bonnets in faded and rusty pink that look like, well, puke.
Santa Fe blue bonnets.

Any more?
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Is the "Pacific Pride" Geep still in the Seattle-Everett area or has it been repainted? It had the logos of all the BN predecessor roads up through the Frisco on one side. The last time I saw it the logos were peeling quite badly.

Looking at the NS Heritage fleet, it is fun to image what a modern BNSF loco would look like in the NP "Pine Tree", classic GN "Pullman Green and Omaha Orange", and Burlington "Mandarin Red" paint schemes, among others.
 

GE Power

New Member
There were two Pacific Prides. BN 2075 was Pacific Pride I. It had a mechanical problem (fire?) early on and was replaced by BN 2085, called Pacific Pride II. Both are now lettered BNSF with the original roster numbers.

I found a picture of 2075 still in Cascade Green leading a train at Edmonds on 2/14/14. Some of the fallen flag logos were still sticking to it, and it had "PAC RIDE" lettered on the nose.

2085 was painted into H1 on 9/12/00 and appears in pictures to retain no trace of having been Pacific Pride II.
 




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