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Question & Answer

Question & Answer

A closer look at some of the Q & A's that have come up from Conrail fans and employees.

Please remember these are not golden, many responses are drawn from the views of former employees and fans alike. They are only here for your viewing pleasure. For a more in depth discussion regarding any of the topics covered here, feel free to voice Your opinion on the ConrailCorp Group    Have a question of your own? Ask the experts

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1. What keeps the present day former Conrail SD45-2's rostered? James G

Answer- "The improvements from the SD45 to SD45-2 were significant enough to justify keeping them around. Specifically:

The engine frame and crankshaft were improved (also applies to later SD45s). This completely fixed engine reliability problems.

They have Dash2 components with less, simpler and better wiring with upgraded (higher voltage) diodes on the main generator. This made so they were electrically more reliable.

They had 6" radiators instead of the permanently leaky 8" radiators.

Some were converted to 16 cyl engines because Juniata had the parts and was bored.

Compared to SD50 and newer locomotives, all Dash 2s are fuel pigs in road haul service. As the fleet modernized, some SD45-2s became surplus, and if offered a good price, were sold." Don Oltmann Mechanical Engineer - Locomotives

2. I remember seeing colored couplers on cabooses, what was this for? Jeff Baxter

Answer- "Through the late 1970 early 1980's there were rotary shank type "F" couplers installed on some unit train cabins operated by Conrail for various power companies.

Trains equipped with these couplers could be unloaded by rotary dumpers without having to uncouple the car. One end, usually the "A" end was equipped with this coupler and was painted either a bright yellow, red or blue.

There were 6 cabooses equipped with the rotary shank couplers; N5C's 23065, 23070, 23091, 23120, and N10's 24032 and 24045." Kris Klemick Conrail T&E Service

3. Who turned off the juice on the High Line PC or Conrail? teenyrailfan

Answer- "Conrail owned the high line and took down the wires in the early 80s after they decided against any future use of electrics. Part of the decision was the high cost Amtrak billed for the juice, but mostly it was poor locomotive utilization that cause CR to drop the electrics.

They also tooke the wires down from Enola to Perryville, Frankfort Jct to Pavonia, Morrisville to Enola, and Lane to South Kearny." Don Oltmann Mechanical Engineer - Locomotives

5. What's up with all the stenciling on damaged freight cars?

Answer- "Standard stenciling was a requirement on CR so that complete data was available to all concerned.

Stencils suitable for use were of the 2" size and maintained by the Hollidaysburg car shop in Hollidaysburg, PA. Damaged cars were classed as HVY 1 through 4 according to the class of repair. If the damage was CR's responsibility, "CR" and the month and year the damage occurred were also stenciled to the car.

Initials of the General Foreman or qualified representative who classified the car was also added. Cars that were designated for special project programs had a "P" following the HVY class.

Cars set aside for dismantling or sale were to have a 3/4" white line stenciled horizontally through the center of the car number, along with "DISMANTLE" below the initial and number of the car. Cars that are sold must have the name of the buyer, sales order number and the date of sales order stenciled. All Conrail initials must be eradicated and the buyer's initials stenciled above or next to the car number." Kris Klemick Conrail T&E Service

6. How many of the Conrail B36-7's were delivered from GE with the metal "elephant ears" mounted on the handrail below the radiator intakes, and how long did they last? Rob Palmer

Answer- "That was an experiment that the SP/SSW's 4-axle GE's had to determine whether or not they'd cut down on the units overheating in tunnels (i.e., sucking in the hot exhaust gases back into the air intakes of the unit, causing the engine to overheat and shut down). It wasn't successful and the test was suspended.

Chessie had a similar experiment on an SD50, plus CP Rail toyed with a similar modification on it's SD40-2s. None worked, though." Joe Walder

"At least one DID have elephant ears. They were there to reduce fan noise so units could make FRA wayside noise limits. CR wanted no part of them - made GE certify w/o (Not sure how they did this. There were no other changes made to locos.) I think a couple were delivered with the "ears" but were removed in short order (a matter of weeks)." Don Oltmann Mechanical Engineer - Locomotives

Dave Trenn checked his slide collection and found 5008 & 5012 were also equipped.

Here is a photo of 5017, one of the units in question.

7. You don't see to many F-41 flats in the last few years. Anyone know if they've been purged from the roster? Brian Ferrell

Answer- "For some reason, the F41s and other old flats were stored by the dozens at Lansing, Michigan's South Yard in late 1992- early 1993, there were at least 10 out of the 70 or so flats in PRR paint. Others were an interesting mix of PC, interim CR and CR colors. They would move up to Lansing in groups of six or so on ELLA, then moved elsewhere (I'm guessing Hollidaysburg) later in 1993. Here's a random sampling of the cars: PRR 469487, CR 716875, CR 716391, CR 719116, PRR 469409, CR 718903, CR 719115, PC 716876 (interesting paint...fresh CR brown, even had the Scotchlite rectangles...but with PC reporting marks), CR 716350, PRR 469526, CR 715581, CR 715932, CR 716933 (PC green), CR 716017, PC 716968, CR 716386, PC 716367, CR 715719, PRR 469330, CR 715754, CR 715813, CR 715651, and (not F41s) NYC 506173, PC 705148, CR 727017 (ex-EL 7564), CR 705903." Ian

8. On some of the older Conrail Geeps, like the 40's there is a decal below the cab numbers that says "SELECT-A-POWER". Can someone explain this to me? Dave

Answer- "The Select-a-Power feature allowed the engineer to reduce to idle position TRAILING units, starting from the REAR unit. For instance, If the train had five units and only required three, he could 'ilde' the fourth and fifth unit.

It was ruled out that 'any' unit could be idled, but don't think that it ever was refined that far.

Units had a decal on the cab, under the number that stated SELECT A POWER. They were also know to CR people as "Fuel Savers". Steve Timko

9. Can someone elaborate on the reflectorized tape on locomotives and cars?

Answer- Conrail began applying it when 3M came around peddaling their new "diamond grade" reflective material, which had the promise of holding up to RR service unlike the old glass bead Scotchcal material. C40-8W 6050 was the first unit to get it. It was applied at Erie when the loco was built.

The FRA has just proposed a rule requiring the tape to be on all freight cars by the end of a 10 year period. The cost of this is quoted at a minimum $100 per car. Don Oltmann Mechanical Engineer - Locomotives and Kris Klemick Conrail T&E Service