Indiana tourist railroad seeks funds to resurrect another Lima-Hamilton diesel

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Video taken in December 2013 by Trains Staff of Whitewater Valley Railroad No. 25.

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. — Indiana tourist railroad Whitewater Valley Railroad has begun soliciting donations for the mechanical and cosmetic restoration of former ARMCO Steel Lima Diesel switcher No. 709.

Whitewater Valley has a Facebook page dedicated to No. 709. Donations can be sent or dropped off at the railroad. Officials also ask that donors specify that a donation is for the 709 Fund so that the donations can be properly directed for the project.

The locomotive has been on the Whitewater property since 1989 with sister locomotives, and the 709 was operational for one season on the railroad before being withdrawn from service due to leaking radiators. Sadly, at one point while stored on the property, the unit also had all the copper wiring to the trucks ripped out by vandals.

A person close to the project estimates that it will take between $4,000 and $5,000 for body work, lettering, and painting the locomotive.

While Lima is most famous for their steam locomotives, they did make a brief foray into the diesel market, mostly end-cab switcher models.

Sadly, the Lima diesels did not prove popular, with only 174 units built. Only four Lima diesel units survive, three of them at Whitewater, and one at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill. Of those four surviving units, No. 709 is the only 1,000-hp model left. Whitewater Valley also rosters the only known operational Lima diesel, former Cincinnati Union Terminal No. 25.

Lima was unusual in that their diesels were not classed as a model type, but rather by specification numbers. Railfans later coined model designations for easier identification. Whitewater Valley No. 25 was a Lima spec type A-3149, which was later dubbed by railfans as an LS-750 for its 750-hp Hamilton engine. No. 709 is a Lima spec type A-3080, later dubbed an LS-1000. No. 709 also was ordered with dual control stands, which it still has.

Built in March 1950, No. 709 has spent its entire career in the Ohio Valley, working both ARMCO’s Hamilton and Middletown, Ohio, plants until the mid-1980s, when, as ARMCO E-137, it and another Lima, LS-1200 E-123 (built as Baltimore & Ohio No. 320) were retired by the ARMCO Middletown plant. There they sat for at least two years. A Whitewater Valley volunteer and former ARMCO employee, Jerry Feicht, was instrumental in convincing the management at ARMCO to donate both units to the tourist railroad.
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