Trains.com

Western Pacific diesel locomotive headlights.

2339 views
12 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June 2011
  • 928 posts
Western Pacific diesel locomotive headlights.
Posted by NP Eddie on Saturday, September 4, 2021 5:06 PM

A photo from "Classic Trains" has WP 2009 with a large "trashcan?" headlight. Other photos of later Geeps show the same type of headlight. Was this specified by the SP for their joint operation in Nevada?

Ed Burns

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • 1,630 posts
Posted by Leo_Ames on Saturday, September 4, 2021 7:37 PM

Almost all of Western Pacific's hood units had those big Pyle National headlights until the U30B's arrived. 

I had it in my head that they went with this in an effort to get slowed down a bit earlier than they otherwise would be able to when a rock slide blocked their tracks in the Feather River Canyon (i.e., hoping that big light would throw light further down the tracks than a more standard lighting package would), but I'm probably wrong. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: California - moved to North Carolina 2018
  • 4,403 posts
Posted by DSchmitt on Sunday, September 5, 2021 9:45 AM

A book on WP locomotives said the Pyle lights on the WP geeps were taken from their retired steam locomotives. 

I can't reference it. My book collection is in storage almost 2000 mile from where I am currently.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,823 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, September 5, 2021 2:10 PM

DSchmitt
A book on WP locomotives said the Pyle lights on the WP geeps were taken from their retired steam locomotives. 

I remember something in Trains Magazine saying this.  Bob Smith might know about the Canadian equivalent.

To my knowledge the SP units that had 'garbage cans' had some kind of gyrating light in them, at least some of which could show a 'white' aspect but would not be that good at projecting a headlight beam...

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • 1,630 posts
Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, September 5, 2021 5:45 PM

Another story that I think I also saw in Trains was that WP got a good deal on several boxcar loads of the bulbs. When that supply eventually was exhausted was supposedly when the fleet was converted to more standard specifications in the 1970's.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 5,977 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, September 6, 2021 4:36 PM

Leo_Ames

Almost all of Western Pacific's hood units had those big Pyle National headlights until the U30B's arrived. 

I had it in my head that they went with this in an effort to get slowed down a bit earlier than they otherwise would be able to when a rock slide blocked their tracks in the Feather River Canyon (i.e., hoping that big light would throw light further down the tracks than a more standard lighting package would), but I'm probably wrong. 

 

I just checked "D-Day on the Western Pacific, A Railroad's Decision to Dieselize" by Virgil Staff.  The third order of GP40 locomotives were the first engines to be delivered with the sealed twin-beam type headlights.    

He says in the book that the WP found the single bulb headlight to be superior to the twin-beam headlights of the day.  While similar to the headlights used on steam engines, the diesel engines (except the first FTs') were delivered with new headlights.  Tje FTs' were retrofitted because the WP didn't like the original design of the headlights.  Once the twin beam lights were accepted, older locomotives were retro fitted with them. 

The book states for a time there were two types of lens applied to the headlight.  One was called the "elephant" lens because it would spread the light out down the tracks.  It was preferred by crews working thru the more mountainous regions were falling rocks might be encountered.  The other was a plain lens, preferred by crews working other areas of the railroad.  Eventually a study was done that there was no appreciable difference and the "elephant" style lens was replaced when the engines were shopped.

Jeff  

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • 1,630 posts
Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, September 6, 2021 11:17 PM

Good information, thanks.

jeffhergert
I just checked "D-Day on the Western Pacific, A Railroad's Decision to Dieselize" by Virgil Staff.  The third order of GP40 locomotives were the first engines to be delivered with the sealed twin-beam type headlights.    

Wouldn't that be the summer 1970 order? The Fall 1967 U30B's always lacked the Pyle National headlight, I thought.  

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 5,977 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 8:05 AM

Leo_Ames

Good information, thanks.

 

 
jeffhergert
I just checked "D-Day on the Western Pacific, A Railroad's Decision to Dieselize" by Virgil Staff.  The third order of GP40 locomotives were the first engines to be delivered with the sealed twin-beam type headlights.    

 

Wouldn't that be the summer 1970 order? The Fall 1967 U30B's always lacked the Pyle National headlight, I thought.  

 

I will have to check that when I get back home.  It could be that he was talking about EMDs and I misread it.  

Jeff

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 5,977 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, September 10, 2021 6:38 PM

I reread the chapter covering the headlights.  He was just talking about EMD models in that instance.  

Jeff   

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • 1,630 posts
Posted by Leo_Ames on Saturday, September 11, 2021 12:15 AM

Thanks for double checking.

I'm kind of disappointed in being correct. As seen by their GP40's (I've linked below a picture off RailPictures for those unfamiliar to see), it would've made for a unique looking U30B.

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/581956/

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,823 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, September 11, 2021 12:13 PM

It occurs to me that there were roads that used multiple sealed-beam lights in the space of a single 'round' headlight opening to get more candlepower -- weren't some of the MILW electrics, including one survivor in St. Louis, equipped with four bulbs in the headlight casing?

I have seen EMD E units with a 'flower' of seven lights in a single standard nose headlight opening; I think someone here knew the exact bulb details and size that were used.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 1,053 posts
Posted by Erik_Mag on Sunday, September 12, 2021 11:33 PM

The MILW electrics were originally equipped with a largesingle bulb headlight to meet the requirements of the Montana law on headlights (ISTR several hundred watts for the bulb). Dunno about when the conversion  to sealed beams took place.

Join our Community!

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

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy