A Tired Missouri Pacific GP18

The EMD GP18 locomotive wasn’t the best selling model (by far) in the company’s history. Only about 350 of these machines were produced for American railroads, and the MOP was by far the biggest customer for them.

Back in the early sixties, my dad took me for another “railfan” trip on a Saturday morning. We were down by the riverfront in New Orleans, and came across the Missouri Pacific roundhouse at the Race Street yards. And there sat several brand new model GP18 locomotives, almost glowing in their fresh and shiny Jenks Blue paint. Man, they really got my attention! Not only were they brand new, but they were the first locomotives I had seen in person that had the ‘then-new’ low nose.

Scarcely 10 years later I spotted this rather tired looking GP18 sitting by the engine house in Avondale, Louisiana. That blue paint didn’t hold up very well, and she looks like she’s been “rode hard and put away wet”! I snapped a Polaroid photograph of the thing, and I just came across it the other day. So, even though it’s a terrible shot, I scanned it so I could post it here.

MP GP18 #440 at Avondale, LA

I had ridden on these locomotives a number of times back during my (very) short career as a brakeman on the Texas and Pacific. I remember that they had a slight side-to-side sway when at speed, something akin to the ride of the streetcars in New Orleans (though not nearly as rough as them). I suppose it was because they rode on old Alco trucks rather than the usual Blomberg models that EMD normally provided. This wasn’t terribly uncommon, as the Alco trucks were obtained from older locomotives that had been traded in for the new locomotives. I recall an email conversation I had with retired MOP engineer Bob Currie some years ago. I mentioned the ride on those Alco trucks, but he said he didn’t remember that swaying motion as I described it. I suppose he had never ridden those New Orleans street cars . . . the resemblance (to me) was unmistakable.

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