Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
EB-14 drifts into the siding at Big Chimney, WV.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bicentennial Unit!

As the time frame for my layout is the summer of 1976, I have always planned to have a bicentennial diesel on the roster. However, the project never developed much beyond that initial thought. Once I started operating on a regular basis, several of the crew members brought up the topic of a bicentennial unit. This started discussions about the diesels that were painted way back in the mid-1970's and the many varied paint schemes that were developed to commemorate the Nation's bicentennial.

Then in mid-November, Matt Snell asked if I had ever thought of doing a bicentennial unit. Turns out that he was looking for material for some articles and wanted to do something a little different. He proposed to do a CWE bicentennial unit for the railroad as the basis for an article and it took me just under a nano second to say "yes!"

While I'm sure many of you are already aware, Matt Snell is one of the most prolific writers in the model railroad press today. There is seldom a month that goes by in which one of his articles doesn't appear in one of the industry publications. And Matt and his wife Debie have created one of the most realistic and prototypically operated layouts in the country. Their Conrail Shared Assets Operation layout was featured in the 2006 issue of Great Model Railroads.

Matt proposed to use an Atlas GP38 that he had on hand as the locomotive for this project. As I already have two of these in operation on the layout, it seemed like the perfect candidate. Through the month of December, Matt designed the paint scheme, acquired the decals and painted the locomotive. I was speechless when I first saw it. Anyone who remembers the bicentennial paint schemes will instantly realize that Matt absolutely nailed the look of the locos of that time. Matt really outdid himself on this one.

So with that background, let's take a look at the unit in operation. In the photo below, 2000 has just emerged from Bell Knob Tunnel and is headed east toward Petersburg Junction.

Next, we catch 2000 approaching the west end of Big Chimney.

Number 2000 is on the point of EC-2 today, the Bay Flyer. It's one of the hottest trains on the railroad and operates between Erie, PA and Hunters Bay, VA delivering primarily auto parts, grain, and other priority freight. In the picture below, the train is rolling through Big Chimney, WV at track speed.

And below, we catch 2000 in a going away photo as it approaches the east end of Big Chimney and the entrance to Camp 3 Tunnel.

EC-2 is now marching up the 2.5% grade to Summit Springs and is approaching Cedar Falls Junction where the Sand Creek Branch connects to the main line.

After cresting the Appalachians at Summit Springs, we catch the train drifting downgrade into Nelsonville, VA.

And lastly, a little bit of video of the train dropping down into Nelsonville. My apologies for the unfinished scenery and video focus issue.

The pictures really don't do the engine justice- you really have to see it in person and in operation to appreciate the fantastic job that Matt did. 

Thanks again, Matt, for a very special gift.


  1. Very Cool!
    And you're right - Matt absolutely nailed the "70s Look" of those Bicentennial units - and produced a neat scheme reflective of the era! If anything it's one of the more "tasteful" ones (some as you likely recall looked downright tacky!)

  2. Beautiful unit. Everytime I see your blog, I want to backdate the Virginia Midland!

  3. Great looking unit and Matt did an inspired job! CWE 2000 certainly captures the look and feel of those Bicentennial units and avoids taking the plunge into kitsch which was a problem for some of the smaller roads (and arguably a few of the Class Ones...). I assume it will remain one of the cleanest units on the roster.

    I also wanted to say how much I like the new photo of those fantastic looking F-Units on the bridge which now anchor the top of the blog page. Your layout may convert me yet to move from 1944 to say 1975. Stranger things have happened.



    Gerard J. Fitzgerald
    Charlottesville, Virginia

  4. Marty- thanks for the kind words. I'm absolutely certain I couldn't have come up with anything close to the paint scheme Matt created.

    Shannon- it must be some kind of blog disease, Every time I check your blog, I think about moving my time period forward!

    Gerard- thanks for the comments about the new photo. I've been trying to upgrade the overall appearance of the blog, inspired by some of the other neat ones that are out there like Shannon's and Marty's.