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NRHS 2013 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 RR 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 is the first time the general public has ever 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 put on cars that need them.

Wheel press machine.

Inside the shop was Alaska Railroad 3001.

Wheel sets ready to be put under freight cars.

Shop views.

A passenger car in the shop.

Gondola cars in the shop.

A bulkhead flat car in the shop.

The east end view of the car shop.

The train and the group in another bay of the car shop.

My group in the car shop.

Aurora car 2000 which will 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 cars.

Another view of part of our train for tomorrow.

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

The north end of the car shop.

My group in the car shop.

The United States flag in the car shop.

Looking back from where we had been.

We went back into the area of the shop where we started and went outside to the busses to get a new guide for the next part of the shop tour.

Alaska Railroad 4011. After all the other groups returned, we switched tour guides and went into the main locomotive shop.

Our group in the main locomotive shop.

Alaska Railroad 3001.

The crane to lift freight car trucks off the rails.

The wheel press machine.

New railroad wheels.

Our group in the main locomotive shop.

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 the 3001 has been taken out of the shop while we were here.

Looking back at the locomotive drop pits.

The overhead crane in the locomotive shop.

Looking towards the west end of the locomotive shop.

My group still paying attention before we exited the shop and returned to switch guides again.

Shop ground view looking south.

Looking east between the buildings.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4011.

The refueling and sanding racks.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4013. We got our final guide and he led us into the running locomotive repair shop.

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

Alaska Railroad GP40-2 3009.

My group getting a safety briefing in the shop.

Trucks of an SD70MAC.

Outside 4011 was still sitting out there.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4317.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4016.

Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4322.

We went into the heavy rebuild section of the shop.

Being rebuilt was Alaska Railroad GP38-2 2008.

Also being rebuilt was Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4016.

The underside of an SD70MAC.

Another view of the 2008.

The locomotive refueling racks as we exited the shop. This 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 for myself. When I got to my room, I found Elizabeth was doing my laundry for me. A big thank you to her for thinking of doing that. That 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 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.