Saturday, August 5, 2017


SD9 1774 has finally been retired. A recent change in motive power assignments at North Pierce has enabled the railroad to put this old work horse out to pasture. The unit is shown below after its last run on BC-11, also known as the Big Chimney Roustabout. 

This engine was purchased in sometime in the late 1970's. I spent a considerable amount of time scraping off cast-on details and replacing them with finer parts. New handrails were crafted from .012 brass wire. It was the second diesel painted for the railroad and the second one to be painted in the original "Central Belt" scheme. For more on the CWE locomotive paint schemes, see the July 2016 issue of RMC. At some point along the way, probably in the mid-1990's, I finally got around to re-numbering the unit. The original Railroad Roman numbers were painted over and it was renumbered into the 1700 series.

It wasn't until operations began on the railroad in 2012 that I considered adding a decoder. This engine was paired with another SD9 and was intended for use on the Big Chimney Roustabout, which works out of North Pierce. There aren't any significant grades on this run so one powered unit is all that is really necessary. This old workhorse still had the original Athearn motor in it. Rather than rebuild the chassis, I elected to turn this engine into a sound-only dummy. I removed the motor, replaced the jewel headlight lenses with clear ones, and added a Tsunami and a speaker. The unit performed well in this capacity, although the deep flanges on the original Athearn wheels liked to talk a lot over the hand-laid turnouts.

So 1774 is off to the drawer where a handful of other equipment patiently awaits the display case that will be built some day.


  1. Tom,
    Having an affinity to SD9s--"Cadillacs" in SP crew-speak, I understand both your modeling efforts and your current decision to consign your model to the display case. I have several old Athearn Blue Box SD9s that I put similar work into that will never see a decoder. Their modern "scale hood" replacements mostly await detail work, so a hodgepodge serves on my RR in local service. Someday.....

    Glad you will consign yours to an honorable retirement.

    Bill Decker, McMinnville, OR

  2. Nice write up Tom, I believe I have a few Blue Box GP38-2s that are reaching that point. They got rebuilt with NWSL motors about 10 years and the decoder is about shot. They will make fantastic displays in a nice oak / glass though.

    Were you going to display 1774?


  3. Hi Tom. If you're ever interested in selling one of your retired locos I'd be interested in buying one. Your railroad is one of my favorites! And I'm in N scale but won't let that stop me! Lol

  4. Bill- I have a soft spot for the SD9's as well. The 1763 shown in the first photo survives and will continue in service, albeit as a dummy. It had a hitch in its get-up that I couldn't fix so the motor got yanked. I also have a newer P2K unit with factory equipped sound that is awaiting a trip through the paint shop.

    Greg- I have several of the Blue Box GP38-2's as well. They'll show up some day as dummies. the display case will be hung in the crew lounge. At least until the branch line expands into that room...

    Frank- I hadn't considered selling anything, partially for sentimental reasons. But that may change at some point.

    1. Will the new P2K sd9 be numbered to take the place of the retired unit.

  5. Thanks Tom. By the way, where do you get your decals made? I'm looking into making some for my railroad. Thanks in advance.

  6. Frank- I got mine from Ron Roberts at Rail Graphics. But you had better hurry- he's closing shop at the end of the year. You could also try Highball Graphics as they offer custom decal work. They produce a nice product and provide great service.

  7. Tom-I had to play taps for the SD-9, it was a good engine. Is there any chance of new motive power for the railroad?

  8. Peter- LOL! There is always more power being added to the railroad. Recent additions include another two GP9's with a third in the paint shop and there are plans for additional units of all types currently in service.

  9. Tom sad day but at least she's being preserved.

    My road is doing a CLR Program with our GP/SD7/9's giving them chop nose's and liberated exhaust on the rebuilds.

    Can't wait to see what's on store for the future of the CWE

  10. Tom - you retire much nicer stuff than I keep! RIP 1774 - the detail and finishing is so good, you rarely even notice that it's a classic Athearn wide hood. Glad it will still be on display, and the CW&E "continuous improvement" program abides. -- Keith VandeStadt