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2013 NRHS Convention Alaska Railroad Shops Tour 9/18/2013

by Chris Guenzler

This limited-capacity tour offers participants a rare opportunity to visit the railroad's Anchorage shops complex. The Alaska Railroad is a unique operation, offering both freight and long-distance passenger service in an isolated location and often under adverse operating conditions. The Anchorage shops are the heart of the maintenance operations that keep this undertaking going. The tour will start with an orientation session at the Hilton Anchorage. We will then divide the participants into smaller groups and visit the locomotive, freight car and passenger car facilities within the Anchorage shops complex.

The bus took us to the shops and the first thirty people off the bus became my group. This was the first time the general public has been let into the Alaska Railroad shops.

The Anchorage shops complex.

My group at the Anchorage shop complex. We then entered the shop building.

Car trucks ready to be installed.

Wheel press machine.

Inside the shop was Alaska Railroad GP40-2 3001 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1975.

Wheel sets ready to be put under freight cars.

Shop views.

A passenger car in the shop.

Gondola cars.

A bulkhead flat car.

East end view.

The train and the group in another bay.

My group in the car shop.

Alaska Railroad business car 2000 "Aurora" which would be on our train tomorrow.

More of our train for tomorrow.

Holland America bi-level cars and the remains of our train from yesterday.

Alaska Railroad baggage car 110, ex. Southern Pacific power car 295, exx. Amtrak lease through 1978, nee Southern Pacific 6733 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1961. Alaska Railroad acquired it from Union Pacific in 2001.

Another view of part of our train for tomorrow.

We walked back into the same area of the car shop.

The north end.

My group in the car shop.

The United States flag.

Looking back from where we had been.

We returned to the area of the shop where we started and went outside to the busses where a new guide took over for the next part of the tour.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4011 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2000. After the other two groups returned, we switched tour guides and went into the main locomotive shop.

Our group in the main locomotive shop.

Alaska Railroad GP40-2 3001.

The crane to lift freight car trucks off the rails.

The wheel press machine.

New railroad wheels.

Listening to our tour guide.

The wheel lathe.

New railroad wheel axles.

New wheel sets on rails.

The passenger car drop pit.

My group paying attention to our guide.

More wheel sets ready to go.

A traction motor.

My group at the locomotive drop pit. Notice that 3001 had been taken out of the shop while we were here.

Looking back at the locomotive drop pits.

The overhead crane.

Looking towards the west end of the shop.

My group enjoying their experience before we exited and returned to switch guides again.

Shop ground view looking south.

Looking east between the buildings.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4011.

The refuelling and sanding racks.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4013 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2000. Our final guide joined us and led us into the running locomotive repair shop.

Once we were inside, we were given instructions that we could go onto the inspection racks, inside any locomotive, walk beside the locomotives in the inspection pit but to be safe at all times. The one thing we could not do was to walk under any locomotive. All my group followed these instructions to the letter.

Alaska Railroad GP40-2 3009 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1976.

My group getting a safety briefing in the shop.

Trucks of an SD70MAC.

Outside 4011 was still sitting there.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4317 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2004.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4016 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2000.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4322 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2004.

We went into the heavy rebuild section of the shop.

Being rebuilt was Alaska Railroad GP40m 2008, ex. Conrail GP40 3250, nee Penn Central GP40 3250 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1968.

Also being rebuilt was Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4016 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2000.

The underside of an SD70MAC.

Another view of 2008.

The locomotive refueling racks as we exited, which ended our shop tour of the Alaska Railroad. I would like to thank the Alaska Railroad for a great day of tours of their unique railroad. We bussed back to the Hilton, thus ending this NRHS day.

I walked back to the hotel, stopping at the market for a Coca-Cola. When I returned to our room, I found Elizabeth was doing my laundry for me; a big thank you to her for thinking of doing that, which allowed me to put the corrections into my last story as I watched "NCIS". When Elizabeth returned with the clean clothes, we then went to the Sizzlin' Cafe for dinner and I had a steak to celebrate.

Elizabeth then told me about her day. She had gone on the Portage and Girdwood bus tour where she saw the Portage Glacier and toured the visitors center, followed by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where she saw such animals as bison, lynx, moose, elk, porcupine and a red fox. The final tour of her day was to Alyeska Tramway. I told her about mine as we ate. We came back to the room where Elizabeth typed up this story while I dictated, making this the easiest story I have ever written as she is an excellent typist and I am not. In fact, I'm a pecker and she is not. We then relaxed for the rest of the evening.