Modeling Modern Secondhand Engines, Railroad Model Craftsman, July, 2021, pp. 60-67

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Tue Jun 29 21:17:04 EDT 2021

The SD40-2s at this point have been pretty much relegated to yard and local service and rarely haul main line traffic.  Norfolk Southern actually traded SD40-2s to CSX for those SD80MACs.  In addition to the UP SD9043MACs, they also acquired several CEFX/INRD SD9043MACs as well.  When NS acquired both the 80s and the 90/43s they were short on main line power as many Dash-8 series units were out of service.  NS also had plans for rebuilding all of these "new" locomotives.  All have since gone through Juniata for rebuilding into SD70ACu's.  
Rebuilding these locomotives had several advantages over pressing stored SD40-2s back into service.  New FRA crew protection mandates had come into affect and the rebuilds met these standards.  Many of the SD40-2s were also stored in preparation for rebuilding into what has been dubbed the Admiral cabs to meet the crew protection requirements.  The newer 80- and 90-series locomotives had improved emissions to help NS meet EPA standards.
When these locomotives were acquired, NS had not yet adopted the PSR philosophy so that did not come in to play.  However, most of these locomotives have already left the roster and that is a result of adopting PSR.
Conrail was the only railroad to purchase the SD80MAC.  The SD80 is the modern version of the SD45, also being a 20-cylinder locomotive.  Conrail has placed an order for additional SD80MACs when the split was approved.  Norfolk Southern and CSX, neither one, wanted SD80MACs on account of the 20-cylinder prime movers so those orders were modified.  The SD80MACs were replaced by SD70MACs and SD70s.  After the Conrail acquisition the 70MACs went to CSX and the 70s to NS.  The existing SD80MACs were split evenly between the two railroads.  After a few years CSX confirmed they didn't like them and the two agreed to swap power.  The SD80MACs spent a large portion of their careers, both for Conrail and NS, working the former Monongahela lines hauling coal.  Crews liked them up there.
The reasoning of the railroad being set up for 150 car freights with two SD40-2s might have held up on one or two divisions but not all divisions.  Most of the Pocahontas was double track from Norfolk to Portsmouth OH.  The Southern Piedmont was mostly double track from Lynchburg to Atlanta with short sections of single track.  Even on single track territory, like the Asheville District, sidings were much longer than 150 cars and two SD40-2s.
Josh Blevins Charlotte, NC

    On Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 07:39:07 PM EDT, NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at> wrote:  
      This interesting article discusses how to decorate locomotives 
Norfolk Southern bought from UP and CSX.  The "new" locomotives are 
SD9043MACs and SD80MACs.

     This raises a couple questions.  First, last time I was in Roanoke, 
there were about a bazillion NS SD-40-2s mothballed on many tracks by 
the shops.  Why buy when you've got plenty?  Is this Precision Scheduling?

     Second, on a prior visit to Roanoke, just prior to the Conrail 
acquisition/distribution, the superintendent of motive power at the 
shops described a problem they were facing: Conrail had a passel of SD 
something big (70? 80? 90?) AC locomotives and it was up in the air 
whether NS or CSX would get them.  The super didn't particularly want 
them.  His reasoning was that the NS system is tuned like a racehorse 
for 150 car (or so?) freights pulled by two SD-40-2s.  All the sidings 
are perfect for that train.  The Conrail locomotives seemed to be like 
1.5 SD-40-2s, which gave them two unattractive alternatives: run one 
with a shorter train, or run two of these very expensive locomotive and 
overpower the train.  Do these UP and CSX units present the came issue?


Best wishes,
Bill Mosteller
Great Decals!

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