THE magazine of railroading

SEARCH TRAINSMAG.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Burlington's Chicago commuter power before the E?

9235 views
65 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • 7 posts
Posted by ejmhhm on Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:21 AM

Hi,

Do you have any idea where I can get i photo of Steam pulling The Bilevels. Thanks

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 880 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, July 01, 2017 7:24 PM

There are photos out there of CNW Pacifics pulling their green and gold bilevels around Chicagoland, and SP Northerns, Mountains and Pacifics pulling their gray bilevels on the San Francisco Peninsula commute trains. But so far, photos of CB&Q steam pulling their stainless steel bilevels around Chicagoland have proven elusive.

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Saturday, July 01, 2017 7:49 PM

kgbw49

There are photos out there of CNW Pacifics pulling their green and gold bilevels around Chicagoland, and SP Northerns, Mountains and Pacifics pulling their gray bilevels on the San Francisco Peninsula commute trains. But so far, photos of CB&Q steam pulling their stainless steel bilevels around Chicagoland have proven elusive.

 

As elusive as the claimed GEEP on a bilevel train

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 880 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, July 02, 2017 8:37 AM

There are a few photos out there of Southern Pacific GPs in the 1950s powering San Francisco Peninsula bilevel commute trains such as this one...

Image result for southern pacific commuter trains

There are also photos out there of SP GPs in scarlet nose paint pulling bilevel coaches through the years, but they are not numerous, for sure.

 

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Sunday, July 02, 2017 1:48 PM

kgbw49

There are a few photos out there of Southern Pacific GPs in the 1950s powering San Francisco Peninsula bilevel commute trains such as this one...

Image result for southern pacific commuter trains

There are also photos out there of SP GPs in scarlet nose paint pulling bilevel coaches through the years, but they are not numerous, for sure.

 

 

Still looking for the Q one.

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 2,975 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Sunday, July 02, 2017 7:47 PM

There are lots of photos in books of SP GP9s pulling bilevels in the "Bloody nose" scheme, including many where the GP9 is running long hood first.  Of course, the Trainmasters were the favorites...

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 10,019 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, July 03, 2017 10:04 AM

GP7/GP9's were part of the suburban power pool on C&NW prior to the re-equipping with HEP-equipped bi-levels in 1959-1960 so you might be able to find pictures on C&NW Geeps pulling the first 16 bi-levels which predated HEP.  I do not think that GP7/GP9's were a regular part of Burlington's passenger pool so Burlington GP's pulling bi-levels would probably be on an emergency basis only with any pictures being correspondingly rare.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Monday, July 03, 2017 12:08 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

GP7/GP9's were part of the suburban power pool on C&NW prior to the re-equipping with HEP-equipped bi-levels in 1959-1960 so you might be able to find pictures on C&NW Geeps pulling the first 16 bi-levels which predated HEP.  I do not think that GP7/GP9's were a regular part of Burlington's passenger pool so Burlington GP's pulling bi-levels would probably be on an emergency basis only with any pictures being correspondingly rare.

 

That's all quite right but there are those that claim it happened, just looking for a picture.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 2:09 PM

I think you will find in the CB&Q power-car pre-head-end-power days that GP-7s were the preferred power for off-peak two-car and three-car bilevel trains because they were more economical to operate than the E-units.  Only when available, however, which depended on freight traffic levels.  And my experience was in summer when steam heat was not necessary.

  • Member since
    August, 2004
  • From: NW indiana
  • 1,535 posts
Posted by n012944 on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 2:56 PM

ejmhhm

Hi,

Do you have any idea where I can get i photo of Steam pulling The Bilevels. Thanks

 

 

http://www.shore-line.org/Back_Issues.lasso

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 880 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, July 07, 2017 9:25 PM

Bully for you, n012944!

What a great picture!

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Friday, July 07, 2017 10:03 PM

daveklepper

I think you will find in the CB&Q power-car pre-head-end-power days that GP-7s were the preferred power for off-peak two-car and three-car bilevel trains because they were more economical to operated than the E-units.  Only wheb available, however, which depended on freight traffic levels.  And my experience was in summer when steam heat was not ecessary.

 

Still looking for a picture!

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 9:06 PM

daveklepper

I think you will find in the CB&Q power-car pre-head-end-power days that GP-7s were the preferred power for off-peak two-car and three-car bilevel trains because they were more economical to operate than the E-units.  Only when available, however, which depended on freight traffic levels.  And my experience was in summer when steam heat was not necessary.

 

 

Asked the question out on a couple of Q interest groups. The answers were pretty much "not used" but never say never. This response pretty much sums up all the others

"I don't recall ever seeing a dinky pulled by a geep. Saw them when I lived in Brookfield, IL, between 1948-1965 and from 1971-77."

    

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,571 posts
Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 10:15 PM

Buslist

 

 
daveklepper

I think you will find in the CB&Q power-car pre-head-end-power days that GP-7s were the preferred power for off-peak two-car and three-car bilevel trains because they were more economical to operate than the E-units.  Only when available, however, which depended on freight traffic levels.  And my experience was in summer when steam heat was not necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

Asked the question out on a couple of Q interest groups. The answers were pretty much "not used" but never say never. This response pretty much sums up all the others

"I don't recall ever seeing a dinky pulled by a geep. Saw them when I lived in Brookfield, IL, between 1948-1965 and from 1971-77."

    

 

The rarest of rare.  I saw Q trains occasionally in Aurora or Naperville for many years (~1955-70) and never saw one. 

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 16, 2017 9:56 AM

They were regular off-peak on short trains and referse commuting the summer of 1952.  I have to agree that I did not see them at all 1967-1970, my second period of life in the Chicago area.  Only E-units.  But in 1952 some rush hours trains were still behind steam, including gallery-car trains.

I have seen posted a description of a mixed gallery-car and single-level car train.  Never saw this.  In 1952 there were of course power cars; I think on all suburban trains, both gallery and single-level.  The single-level cars were of two types.  Steel open-platform cars rebuilt with closed vestibules and AC, and downgraded long-distance coaches equipped with AC and suburban seating.  The single-level cars were a brighter green than the traditional Pullman green which could still be seen on many Burlington head-end cars and long-distance heavywieghts not converted for suburban servie, and with brown or tan adjacent to and between windows, I think set off by thin white or yellow or gold strips at the belt rail and bottom of the letterboard seperating the brown from the green.  But I assure you that in the summer of 1952 Geeps were a regular on short off-peak and reverse-commuting suburban trains.

One thought:  Perhaps the Q was taking delivary of thse GP-7s and using the short suburban runs as break-in opporunities?

  • Member since
    July, 2008
  • 10 posts
Posted by clipperw on Monday, July 17, 2017 5:00 PM

If you go to the Burlington Route Historical website, they have copies of their first Bulletin which covered the Q's commuter service. Included in the article are two photos of pacifics pulling commuter trains including the last steam assigned commuter o September 26, 1952. The photos were taken by long time Q fan and photographer, Ray Buhrmaster.

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,021 posts
Posted by RME on Monday, July 17, 2017 5:05 PM

clipperw
Included in the article are two photos of Pacifics pulling commuter trains including the last steam assigned commuter of September 26, 1952.

Yes, but ... all the recent posts involve the rarity of Geeps on those trains in that general time period, something that apparently occurred very frequently but during a very restricted span of months.  It's photographs documenting that service that we're trying to find.

Question for Mr. Klepper: were the Geeps you saw used bidirectionally in that pre-push/pull era, to get around the mentioned issues with having to turn the Es, or were they consistently operated with one end (probably the long hood) consistently leading?  I wonder if someone had the bright idea to use a nominally-double-ended locomotive to help this situation, but crew complaints or some other operating issue ... or the relative horsepower lack compared to an E unit ... made the experiment short-lived even for short off-peak trains.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:16 AM

Frankly, I do not remember whether the GP-7s were turned or not.  I just know I saw them frequently on reverse-rush-hour and off-peak trains in the summer of 1952.  If photos are rare or non-existant, then I have to offer the possibility that these were break-in trips as the GP-7s were delivered.  Horsepower was more than adequate for fast acceleration for two-car and three-car trains.  Never did see one on a long rush-hour train.  When I lived in Westmont 1967-1970, off-peak trains were longer, five or six cars, not two or three.  Ditto on weekends.

In Summer 1952, the GP-7s were not used on weekends.  Only E-units even with short trains.  This would seem confirm the idea of break-in running.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:43 AM

I should not hve said "GP-7s were not used weekends."  What is correct is that "I did not see any GP-7s used on commuter trains on weekends."

Off-peak and non-rush-hour short trains saw some GP-7 use but were certainly not exclusively GP-7 propelled.  I never saw an E-5 on a commuter train, but there is photographic evidence that they were so used on occasion.

In 1952 the E-units were in a pool, and could be used on intercity and commuter service as required.  1967-1970 the passenger pools were divided, with E-units assigned either to suburban or intercity passenger service.  By that time, the E-5s were exclusively in intercity service.

 

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,021 posts
Posted by RME on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:05 AM

And, just to be clear, these were short trains using bilevels, right?

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:21 AM

Right.  In the summer of 1952, I saw GP-7s in suburban service only on two or three car (plus power car) gallery car trains.   Not on any longer trains.

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Friday, August 11, 2017 10:09 PM

daveklepper

Right.  In the summer of 1952, I saw GP-7s in suburban service only on two or three car (plus power car) gallery car trains.   Not on any longer trains.

 

How lucky you were to catch them when the Q fans that haunted the railroad never did!

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,021 posts
Posted by RME on Saturday, August 12, 2017 2:37 AM

Buslist
How lucky you were to catch them when the Q fans that haunted the railroad never did!

Keep in mind that it is quite possible for there to be photographic evidence that is not 'on the Web' or disclosed in this thread.  One of the quirks of the photo trading community is reluctance to cheapen their 'crown jewel' rarities by allowing them to be published -- I was astounded to see the rich documentation, for example of the Alco Black Marias or the early GE cab units, that was present in photo traders' collections as early as the mid-Seventies.  Some of this has come to public view or been described in articles since that time, but in my opinion it's not unreasonable to think that example photos do exist of "GP7s with bilevels" that have not been published.

And while I have nowhere near your knowledge of the community of Q fans, I don't find it particularly unusual that no Q fan who had seen a GP7 pulling bilevels happens to have seen this particular thread and confirmed the 'sighting' here.  While I tend to agree with the railfan's "photo or it never happened" mindset, in this particular case mere confirmation from another Q fan might be sufficient.  But I don't know how we'd go about asking, or who we'd best initially direct the question to.

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Saturday, August 12, 2017 4:29 PM

RME

 

 
Buslist
How lucky you were to catch them when the Q fans that haunted the railroad never did!

 

Keep in mind that it is quite possible for there to be photographic evidence that is not 'on the Web' or disclosed in this thread.  One of the quirks of the photo trading community is reluctance to cheapen their 'crown jewel' rarities by allowing them to be published -- I was astounded to see the rich documentation, for example of the Alco Black Marias or the early GE cab units, that was present in photo traders' collections as early as the mid-Seventies.  Some of this has come to public view or been described in articles since that time, but in my opinion it's not unreasonable to think that example photos do exist of "GP7s with bilevels" that have not been published.

And while I have nowhere near your knowledge of the community of Q fans, I don't find it particularly unusual that no Q fan who had seen a GP7 pulling bilevels happens to have seen this particular thread and confirmed the 'sighting' here.  While I tend to agree with the railfan's "photo or it never happened" mindset, in this particular case mere confirmation from another Q fan might be sufficient.  But I don't know how we'd go about asking, or who we'd best initially direct the question to.

 

 

Ask the question on the 2 Burlington fan pages on Facebook as I noted in an earlier post, perhaps you missed it! One group has 2,339 members the other has 5,998 members. Also asked at Chicago Railfan 2,933 members and Chicago area Commuter Railroads, 433 menmbers   Got a uniform negative response as I noted in the earlier post! 

Perhaps you know someplace where there are more Q fans that might have been around in the early 50s.

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,021 posts
Posted by RME on Saturday, August 12, 2017 9:55 PM

Buslist
Ask the question on the 2 Burlington fan pages on Facebook as I noted in an earlier post, perhaps you missed it!

Wasn't that the earlier post that contained the phrase 'never say never'? Big Smile

There is no guarantee whatsoever that the number of members in a group correlates with the number who read or respond to a particular post -- or that the people who respond necessarily correlate to the people who may have seen GP7s pulling bilevels.  That certainly does not invalidate the idea that, as schlimm said, these trains would be 'rarest of the rare', but (as Einstein said in a different context) one confirming positive example would establish Dave's claim definitively.  Just how many responses from the four groups did you receive?

I confess I have a hard time thinking that Mr. Klepper imagined or made up the sightings he mentioned, or that he could be confusing them with something else.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,571 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 12, 2017 11:24 PM

Well, it does seem odd there are no public photos or Q fans who confirm.  It sure isn't hard to find documentation for odd or rare combos on the C&NW and Q fans are at least as rabid and knowledgeable.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,056 posts
Posted by Buslist on Sunday, August 13, 2017 3:26 AM

RME

 

 
Buslist
Ask the question on the 2 Burlington fan pages on Facebook as I noted in an earlier post, perhaps you missed it!

 

Wasn't that the earlier post that contained the phrase 'never say never'? 

Which is why I noted that he was lucky to have seen them when others have never had the opportunity !

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,628 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 13, 2017 8:33 AM

There is another possibility.  Possibly the appropriate histiorical group has preserved records of motive-power assignments and can produce records of specific locomotive assignments for June, July, and August 1952.

Also, EMD may have records of GP-7 deliveries to the "Q" and how each was first assigned for use.

I am absolutely certain that when I left the PRR Trailblazer at Chicago Union, rented a room or just a stall (whateve the facilities were at Union at the time, but there were facilities) for shower and change, and then boarded a two-car gallery train, plus power car, to La Grange Road station to report for my summer job at EMD, that the train was powered by a GP-7.  I believe I saw this at other times during the summer, but I can be absolutely sure about my first trip. 

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,021 posts
Posted by RME on Sunday, August 13, 2017 9:51 AM

daveklepper
I am absolutely certain that when I left the PRR Trailblazer at Chicago Union ... and then boarded a two-car gallery train, plus power car, to La Grange Road station to report for my summer job at EMD, that the train was powered by a GP-7 ... I can be absolutely sure about my first trip.

Now we may be getting someplace.

Dave, you will know (or can probably determine from secondary sources) the exact day and time involved here.

THAT can be compared against the locomotive assignment records with an almost laser focus -- and we already know how many rabid Q fans can be brought to bear to find these data.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,571 posts
Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 13, 2017 10:41 AM

daveklepper

There is another possibility.  Possibly the appropriate histiorical group has preserved records of motive-power assignments and can produce records of specific locomotive assignments for June, July, and August 1952.

Also, EMD may have records of GP-7 deliveries to the "Q" and how each was first assigned for use.

I am absolutely certain that when I left the PRR Trailblazer at Chicago Union, rented a room or just a stall (whateve the facilities were at Union at the time, but there were facilities) for shower and change, and then boarded a two-car gallery train, plus power car, to La Grange Road station to report for my summer job at EMD, that the train was powered by a GP-7.  I believe I saw this at other times during the summer, but I can be absolutely sure about my first trip. 

 

Given how dark platforms at CUS were then (until 1951 the coach-only TB; from 1951 to 1959 the TB was combined with the General) and now, is it possible the locomotive at the far end of the platform was actually a steam-boilered SD 7 or SD 9 in the 300 range?  After all, the paint scheme was black, with numbers not very visible. Steam-boiler-equipped GP 7s and GP 9s were in the 200 range.

BTW, CB&Q commuter trains, especially mid-day were called 'Dinkys' while MILW and CNW called theirs 'Scoots.'  The one car train on the PJ&B was 'the Dinky' I believe.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Trains free email newsletter
NEWS » PHOTOS » VIDEOS » HOT TOPICS & MORE
GET OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Connect with us
ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

Search the Community