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Maintenance of Way Equipment
Part One - Vehicles, Cranes & Wreckers, Plows & Spreaders
, and Weed Sprayers
Every railroad has to mantain the line 24/7 - especially the Missouri Pacific in particular. When other Class 1 roads adopted a routine of "deferred mantainence" the MoPac worked harder than ever to to make the right-of-way safer, faster and stronger. As a result they were among the healthiest of railroads by the 1980's. The work equipment specifically designed for mantaining the right-of-way and repairing its rolling stock played a key role in keeping the trains rolling... everything from Ballast cars, rail cars, wheel cars, tool cars, bunk cars, weed sprayers, snowplows, burro cranes and wreckers, and the simple push-car to a sweet little motorized Speeder.

On the other hand old and obsolete rolling stock, such as boxcars (often being rebuilt into tool cars) and cabooses, enjoyed a second life as they entered non-revenue service. In fact MoPac converted two cars from the long gone steam era into M. of W. equipment which was still used well past the UP merger; old coal tenders rebuilt into push snow plows and water tenders were recycled for weed spraying trains.

spikes, spike driver, tie plates, rail bolt and  clip

Here's a small sampling (by no means complete) of the unsung heroes of the railroads, some of the most interesting equipment on the line, and what the MoPac once used when it was working on the railroad... all the live-long day.

 

For a roster listing:
MoW Equipment Roster

now under development



The numbering of MoPac's MoW equipment occurs quite scattered. I've tried to keep like-equipment together, rather than strictly follow their numerical listing to make navigating these pages a bit less confusing.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image

Official colors doesn't always apply in every case. By it's very nature the equipment used were hand-me-downs, surplus from mergers and out-dated cars. MoW equipment was a hodge-podge assortment. Overall, MoW colors were safety orange and some yellow, with yellow on newer equipment likely becoming less common by the late 1970's.

Gang trucks and roadmaster pickups were MoPac's "Safety Orange" or "Omaha Orange."

MoW crew car equipment between 1950-60's wore boxcar or oxide red on the body and yellow over the ends. Later years saw the over-all aluminum color scheme being adopted on these cars.

MP Fairmont Speeder - skims idley by at Dallas, Texas on August 27, 1983 - Brian Ehni Photo

More MoPac Speeders - click Here

How Old is Too Old? The oldest equipment owned by any railroad often ended up in Mantainence work. Similarly, aging MoW equipment itself when it became old or more obsolete, would trickle down from the mainline to the smaller branchlines. Even as late as the 1960's, "Gandy dancers" a.k.a. pumpcars -- entirely man-powered and among the earliest MoW vehicles used by railroads back in the youngest days of Steam -- could be seen running the rails of MoPac's Lincoln branch.

MP Scale Test Car - photographed July of 1972 in Houston, Texas. The Building in the background is next to the Milby Street servicing facilities; it's the Maxwell House coffee plant. Houston, TX, 7/72 - © Brian Paul Ehni photo, used with permission.


Vehicles including Hi-rail trucks, roadmaster trucks, wreckers and railroad crane trucks, as well as other on/off-track vehicles assigned to MoW service were painted Safety Orange and carried the MoPac logo on the door.

Other sources for Hi-rail Trucks (hirail, mofw trucks):

  • Patrick Dorin's book Missouri Pacific Freight Trains and Equipment has a full b/w shot of hi-railer #8803

  • The MP Historical Society's MoW page has some excellent images of hi-rail wrecker #8928

MP MOW Crew/Trucks - rerailing MP #5051 (at far right) at Poplar Bluff, Missouri - Elvin Klepzig photo

More on these vehicles can now be found at MOPAC Hi-railers & Off-track Vehicles

MP Ballast Vacuum - with Difco dump car at San Antonio, TX; 6/5/83. Recently I saw this machine with a pair of green-painted MP dump cars used at the UP's Council Bluffs yard. - © Brian Paul Ehni photo, used with permission.


MP Ballast Vacuum - also called a "yard cleaner," seen from another view - © Brian Paul Ehni photo, used with permission.


Pile Drivers, Wreckers, Derricks & Locomotive Cranes came in a variety of colors, painted black with white lettering and later orange or yellow with black lettering. Lettered with the MP X prefix, sometimes in later years with a MP eagle logo on the side. Boom cars for larger cranes were boxcar red.

Wrecker Images on Other Sites:

T&P Pile Driver #PD 1 - diagram dated 5/3/55; built 1922 - Missouri Pacific Diagram/Daryl Favignano Collection

See MOPAC DIAGRAMS for More

MP X 105 - wrecker crane at Mid-Continent Railway at North Freedom, Wisconsin, 10/19/99. - Elvin Klepzig photo

MP X 105 - same wrecker crane and idler car, 10/19/99. - Elvin Klepzig photo

MP X 123, MP X 1086, MP X 797- wrecker, idler, and tender at Dupo, Illinois on September, 1966. - photo: W. C. Thurman, John C. La Rue, Jr. collection, used with permission. Contact: mofwcaboose@aol.com for his list of r.r. photos for sale.

Missouri Pacific MofW crane - in route to a major derailment in 1988 in San Antonio, Texas. - Jay Glenewinkel Photo

BC-405825 - The Burro Crane uses the ramp (seen in it's stowed position) to roll down to track level. The green paint on flatcar MP 17001 is a UP update. Though MoPac had such crane/flatcars, I can't verify positively that this pair is an authentic arrangement used by MoPac. Spotted in the Council Bluffs, Iowa yard paired with a converted MP shorty on August 11, 2001. - Todd Greuter Photo

MP Boom Cars, sometimes called tender cars, were often used in conjuntion with cranes.

The color scheme, if you are modeling 1930's to early 1960's, would be freight car red and white lettering. Most I remember didn't have a buzz saw only the reporting marks and a light weight stencil. If a M/W car was occupied I've seen where the ends were painted yellow. (Charlie Duckworth, MOPAC@yahoogroups.com)

The Tichy/Gould Boom Car kit is patterned after a MoPac boom car.


Snowplows - MoPac operated a total of 12 snowplows in 1980. Most of these were nothing more than simple wedges on converted coal tenders.

MP X186 was the only Russell snowplow MoPac ever owned. Russells were common in the east, but were comparatively rare on the great plains. The "elevator wings" on the sides were to widen the initial cut made by the plow. The actual flanger is the structure under the plow body ahead of the rear truck. There were ice cutters ahead of the front truck (which was inside-framed). The operator's main job was to raise the flanger blade when passing over a switch or a highway crossing, so it would not get torn up. (thanks to John La Rue, Jr.)


MP X 186
- The large wedge-type Russel snow plow (or 'wing plow') looks a out of place in snowless Hoisington, Kansas on this day in December 1970. Notice the changes compared to the later photo below. - Lee Berglund photo/ T. Greuter collection ·


MP X 186
- As it appeared in later years: "Missouri Pacific's Snowplow Number M. P. X. 186 is viewed at Dolton, Illinois on June 13, 1982." The plow is still used on the UP system today. An operator could sit in the cupola at top and the large flangers on the sides could spread open to help clear the track of high snowdrifts. - Thomas J. Golden photo from postcard/T. Greuter collection ·

For a time in the mid 1970s MP X 186 was 'stationed' at Hoisington, Kansas. The shop foreman gave MPHS member Bill Hoss a tour of the inside.  At that time it was painted and lettered like all M of W equipment, Oxide red (a flat red lead color) with white lettering. The foreman said they hadn't use it in a number of years, but it was always hauled into the shop every fall and serviced, just in case.

MP X 186 was sent to the C&EI in the late 70s(?) after a crippling snow storm shut down the C&EI and other roads in northern Illinois.  After the line was reopened, it was sent to St. Louis and shopped, the headlight replaced and other work performed. 

Before it was rebuilt with a diesel style headlight, it had a Sunbeam like those used by steam engines in the 20s and 30s.  Bill also adds that the original headlight now resides in his basement.....part of the intruder alert system. (B. Hoss)

'Tuch' Santucci saw the Russell Plow when it was assigned at Yard Center for several years in 1979 and the very early 80's. In 1980 or so, the unit received all sorts of work and was repainted in fresh box car red with Screaming Eagle heralds and MPX markings. There's been speculation that the plow came to the system after the C&EI merger, but he doesn't recall ever spotting CEIX markings prior to the repainting, rather it likely had a patch job and an MPX stencil over the old markings (probably applied sometime after October 76) before getting repainted.

As mentioned by Bill, in early 1979 it was used to plow on the Chicago and Illinois Subs as the area received a record of about 88 inches of snow in that winter of 78-79. A normal Chicago winter produced around 32 inches of snow. Sometime in late 1982 or early 83 Tuch recalls not seeing it anymore in the yard. (Tuch)


MP X 5790
- One of Mopac's six snowplows home-built in the 1920's at the MP shops in Atchison, using old steam tenders. These were loaded with rocks to weigh them down against 4-5 foot snowdrifts and were stored strategically on the rail system. This one is on display at the R.R. Museum in Atchison Kansas. 4/14/01 - Todd Greuter Photo ·

MP X 5790
- Built in 1928, this plow spent most of its service years on the MP Central Branch in Kansas, and occasionally on the Omaha line. By the 1980's some of these plows had the eagle buzzsaw decal applied to the side. Atchison Kansas. 4/14/01 - Todd Greuter Photo ·

MP X 5790
- The dark cloud that follows me had some friends the day I took this photo, but you can still see some details if you look hard enough, like the tall vertical brake wheel at the plow's rear and the reinforced bracing behind the wedge's face. Atchison Kansas. 4/14/01 - Todd Greuter Photo ·

MP X 5790 - Not a pretty shot, but it presents a different view of the large area of the wedge face. There's a circular cut-out in the sheetsteel bracing above and behind the wedge. MP wide-vision cab #13615 is directly behind the plow; Atchison Kansas. 4/14/01 - Todd Greuter Photo



MP X 5790
- at Atchison Kansas on 4/14/01 - Todd Greuter Photo ·
Spreaders - The first Jordan spreaders came to the system at the turn of the century. These spreaders, eqipped with high blades, were extremely versatile, employed in snow fighting, ditching or roadbed contouring. Unpowered, they were pushed from behind, a job often filled by a Geep. A number survived to see their original wood sheathing replaced by steel during the MoP's modernization programs of the 60's and 70's.

MP X 238 - The Jordan Spreader is seen here on March 11, 1981 at Omaha, Nebraska. - G. R. Cockle Photo/courtesy John C. La Rue, Jr. Collection, Contact: mofwcaboose@aol.com for his list of r.r. photos for sale.

Rescanned

MP X 238 - a very rare find: a color shot, this time found at Poplar Bluff, Missouri on 5/23/85 - photo © copyright Elvin Klepzig, used with permission

MP X 238 - another view of MoPac's spreader at Poplar Bluff, Missouri on 5/24/85 - photo © copyright Elvin Klepzig, used with permission

MP X 238 - the Jordan Spreader in a third view, far from it's old stomping ground, this time at Chamberlain, South Dakota on 9/10/90. It's spirit departed, behind rests the remains of UP 6925. - photo © copyright Elvin Klepzig, used with permission

MP X 238 & 239 - DeSoto Shops diagram dated 4/24/78. During later rebuilds, the shops added a cab to these cars - scan provided by Elvin Klepzig

See MOPAC DIAGRAMS for More

Idler Cars - MoPac had a number of these specialized cars, the X 284 below serviced from Vidalia, LA to Natchez, Mississippi. Idler, or Reach cars were simply a flat car with crew accomodations, were very similar to a caboose in design, and were used be the locomotive crew to more safely "reach" cars on river ferrys.

MP X 284 - at Ferriday, Louisiana on April 26, 1969. Its actual built date is unknown, though a similar car, Idler X 638, was built in 1936. The X 284 was retired in 6/71. - photo: John C. La Rue, Jr., used with permission. Contact John for a list of his r.r. photos.

Weed Sprayers roamed throughout the system ridding tracks of weeds before they became troublesome. Equipment seen in the '50's were converted boxcars, followed by a string of tank cars and pushed from the end by a single Geep. MP X 264 with boxcar red body and yellow ends, was also equipped with windows, a headlight, small airhorn and a bell apparently taken from an old steam engine. It also carried the "Route of the Eagles" slogan and a buzzsaw logo on the sides.

#3154 (no initials apparent) - looking for all the world like a mystery machine, this is nothing more than a weed spray trailer, seen on 1/1/65 at Algiers, LA. - photo: John C. La Rue, Jr. Collection, used with permission. Contact: mofwcaboose@aol.com for his list of r.r. photos for sale.

Recommended Links - MoW equipment on other sites

KOSCIUSKO & SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY Equipment Information - includes ex-MP speeder and shorty cab

Camas Prairie Railnet - Motorcars, Speeders and Railcars - small shot of one-time MP speeder



 

MoPac MOW

 

Featured Photographers:
Elvin Klepzig, Daryl Favignano Collection, Brian Paul Ehni, John C. La Rue, Jr. Collection, Craig Meador, G. R. Cockle, George Elwood, Lee Berglund, Ronald Estes, Jay Glenewinkel, Jerry Carson.

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          trainweb.org/screamingeagle l Last Update to this page: 16 April, 2008
          All images & text 2000-2008 T. Greuter / Screaming Eagles, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.
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