Duluth museum to return Northern Pacific SD45 to operation

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No. 3617 rests in the museum hall in October 2016.
Brian Schmidt
DULUTH, Minn. – The Lake Superior Railroad Museum has begun a fundraising campaign to return Northern Pacific SD45 No. 3617 to operation. The locomotive was donated to the museum by Canadian National in 2007 after service on Wisconsin Central and CN. Wisconsin Central had upgraded the unit in 1995 with an EM2000 microprocessor electric control system, but when the engine was donated many of the components were missing.

Volunteer Greg LeJeune is spearheading the effort to restore the locomotive and has been working with several railroads, volunteers, and parts dealers to get the necessary hardware donated and installed. Union Pacific was among the railroads that donated electrical components.

Next week a volunteer who is a locomotive electrician for the Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad in North Dakota will visit Duluth. He worked for Wisconsin Central when the EM2000 system was installed in No. 3617, and will inspect the locomotive to make sure the electrical system is operating correctly.

No. 3617 was built by EMD in 1967, one of 30 SD45s built for NP in 1967 and 1968. Another 20 SD45s were on order at the time of the Burlington Northern merger but were delivered to BN. Numbered to reflect their 3,600 horsepower, they were the most powerful diesels on NP. No. 3617 worked for Northern Pacific just short of three years before becoming Burlington Northern 6417 in 1970. It worked for BN until March 1987 when it was retired.

When Wisconsin Central Ltd. began operations in October 1987, the locomotive went to work as WC 6417, then WC 6495, and finally 7495. In June 2007, Canadian National, which acquired WC in October 2001, donated it to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum still wearing Wisconsin Central colors. The decision to donate the locomotive was made by Gordon Trafton, senior vice president of CN’s United States Region, assisted by Gail Deever of CN Public Affairs and Jim Danielwicz of CN’s Mechanical Department.

In 2015 the SD45 was repainted back into Northern Pacific colors at no cost to the museum by the Northern Plains Railroad at its shop in Fordville, N.D. Prior to shipment to Fordville, museum volunteers restored the round-cornered side windows and installed a gyrating Mars warning light in the nose of 3617 that were extra features on all Northern Pacific SD45s.

In addition to EM2000 work, the museum plans repair work on the prime mover, and connecting the alternator and traction motor wiring, which will be done with assistance from BNSF Railway and Independent Locomotive Service. Other projects include re-installing class light fixtures and repairing the Mars light.

“The Museum is excited about the possibility of seeing No. 3617 run again,” Curator Tim Schandel says. “We’re very pleased that our volunteers are excited not only to do the restoration work but working on the fundraising to make this all happen.” Once the unit is operating again it would be used on the North Shore Scenic Railroad between Duluth and Two Harbors.

To pay for the project the museum has begun the “Power-Up No. 3617 with $45 for the SD45” campaign, asking for donations of at least $45. The museum hope to raise $19,000 for the project. For more information or to donate go to www.powerup3617.com.
No. 3617 on a photo special at Palmers, Minn., on the North Shore Scenic Railroad on Sept. 12, 2015.
Steve Glischinski

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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