Friday 7 June 2024

Dual MU Sockets.

I received a comment on one of the earlier posts about the dual MU sockets on the Roy Hill ES44ACi units asking what the story was with them.

Well, the Roy Hill units have dual MU sockets and dual dummy sockets, very much like both Rio Tinto's ES44DCi and ES44ACi locomotives all have the dual MU and dual dummy sockets whilst the Rio Tinto / Hamersley Iron 9-44CW units have dual MU and only a single dummy socket.

I can only think this reduces the need to reach across a coupling to plug in or disconnect the MU.

Roy Hill ES44ACi unit RHA 1012, serial number 62584, built November 2014 at Erie, Pennsylvania USA, shows the dual sockets and dummy sockets during its delivery.

If you know more, please feel free to leave a comment, thank you, Pilbara Railways.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

A quick arvo on the 4th of June at FMG.

A bit over an hour was spent at my usual hack spot for FMG, between the 5 km curve and the entrance to their port yard, on the afternoon of June 4, 2024 and four trains were observed with a fifth, an empty departing as I was arriving, which happens to me a lot!

This was the first time out for some months due to a number of issues, the car went to Perth to have the roof replaced and some other rust repairs, this was deemed cheaper than a replacement vehicle. I also managed to damage my primary everyday lens, the Canon 28-300 L, and broke the GPS unit on my camera setup. The Canon 5DIII body seems to have survived coming off the car at 60 km/h on Ballast Road at Hampton, Kalgoorlie, but I have noticed some strange exposures when using my other lenes, so a new camera may have to be planned for, testing is continuing. I have only just ordered a new replacement 28-300 mm L series Canon lens, and it seems these may have also now been discontinued by Canon...

However, I digress, back to the rail action, so, four trains were seen in a couple of hours out, two empty departures from the port and two loaded arrivals, one with a quad loco combination which is usually the bank engines being returned for servicing.

Port yard pilot locomotive was aging GE 9-44CW unit 004 shunting the compressor cars from the empty tracks to the rear of the loaded rakes.

The first empty train was SD70ACe-P6 units 729 leading SD70ACe/LCi unit 717 in the standard locomotive pairing that is in use on FMG with 119 waggon pairs for 238 waggons which departed the port at 1529 hrs.

Then at 1538 hrs a loaded train rolled under the Great Northern Highway overpass and into the Port behind the pairing of SD70ACe/LCi unit 713 leading the class leader of the AC44C6M rebuild model locomotives 101. This train also had 119 waggon pairs for 238 empty waggons.

A second loaded followed the first some twenty minutes later at 1608 hrs but this time it had quad locomotive power on the front. This is usually due to mine bank engines being returned to town for servicing requirements and happens on a regular basis.

AC44C6M locomotive 111 led SD70ACe/LCi unit 704 with AC44C6M pair 114 and 103 rounding out the quaddie with yet again 119 waggon pairs for 238 empty waggons. It is nice to see FMG sticking to consistent train lengths as in the past I have counted quite a variance in the number of waggon pairs per service.

The final train for the afternoon was an empty departing at 1634 hrs behind AC44C6M unit 117 leading SD70ACe/LCi locomotive 706 and the now standard 
119 waggon pairs for 238 empty waggons.


Monday 8 January 2024

Ten SD70ACe's and only one 9-44CW seen in a few hours. Pt 2.

Further to the earlier post, on the 27th of December 2023 an arvo out near FMG saw three empty trains all with a pair of SD70ACe variants and two loaded trains with another pair of SD70ACe units and one with an aging 9-44CW leading, and yep, another SD70ACe.

The second queued empty behind 704 and 713 from the below post was sitting at the 27-kilometre post headed up by SD70ACe-P6 unit 727 with serial number 20188761-006, build date of 11/2019 and SD70ACe/LCi unit 703 with serial number 20118611-003, built back in 8/2012.

The FMG SD70ACe-P6 units were an extension of a Norfolk Southern build #20186662 road numbers #1215 to 1224 from November 2018.

The first loaded train appeared at 1648 hrs behind SD70ACe/LCI pair 719 serial number 20118693-011 built back in August 2012 and was the final unit from the second order of SD70 units and class leader 701 "T155 - Glen Davies" with serial number 20118611-001, also from August 2012.

Two hundred and forty loaded waggons in one hundred and twenty pairs are behind 719 and 701 as they head for the dumpers at Port Hedland seen here passing between the two empty trains. 1648 hrs on the 27th December 2023.

Friday 5 January 2024

Well, been a bit slack here, did spend a week in Kalgoorlie in October but then just been working, working, working as I progress the fit out of the train room.

Anyway, got out the other arvo and saw a few empty FMG trains queued on the west track from the end of the port duplication near the 30km, back to the 20 km.

The interesting thing was they were all operated by the SD70ACe variants that FMG operate.

704 with serial number 20118611-004 and 713 with serial number 20118693-005 both from the first and second orders respectively hold the west mainline with ~240 empty waggons.1630 hrs 27th of December 2023.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Golden Hour at FMG.

Late in the afternoon of the 2nd of September 2023, during 'golden hour', we captured this empty train departing the Fortescue Metal Group Port Hedland port behind a pair of Wabtec AC44C6M rebuild units. The AC44C6M locomotive is an AC-traction 4,400-horsepower diesel-electric locomotive which have been rebuilt from General Electric 9-44CW (or Dash 9) locomotive models, including new cabs and an ES44ACi type radiator section. In FMG's case, their fleet of twenty-eight AC44C6M units heritage is all former BNSF/GECX lease units.

FMG's AC44C6M locomotive 109 serial number 50652 and rebuilt from BNSF 4798 with an original build date of June 1998 was delivered to Australia in the first tranche in July 2022, it is leading sister AC44C6M locomotive 120 with serial number 50631 and rebuilt from BNSF 4777 with an original build date of also of June 1998. The rebuilds retain their original serial numbers and build dates.

Trailing shot shows the left-hand side of AC44C6M locomotive 120 as the pair lead their empty train powering across the former Boodarie Access Road grade crossing at the 5 km curve.
All the AC44C6M rebuilds were completed by Wabtec at their Fort Worth, Texas plant and the three tranches of locomotives arrived in two deliveries, first in July 2022 (101-112) and the final in February 2023 (113-128). After a quarantine inspection they were road hauled to Thomas Yard for placing onto FMG rails.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Brimble Rail track machines to the Pilbara.

Brimble Rail was mobilised three track machines to the Pilbara to operate on Rio Tinto's relatively new branch line to the Koodaideri (Gudai-Darri) mine. The three machines, being a Plasser PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324, a Plasser BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler and a Plasser 09-3X 3-sleeper tamping machine to supplement the two RailFirst lease EL class locomotives and ballast hopper waggons as the undertake remediation works on the 166-kilometre line which opened in June 2022.

Plasser PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324, above, at Auski Roadhouse during delivery.

Auski (or Munjina) Roadhouse, 280 kilometres south of Port Hedland, Brimble Rail's three Plasser track machines, a BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler, 09-3X track tamper and a PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324.

Auski (or Munjina) Roadhouse, 280 kilometres south of Port Hedland, Brimble Rail's Plasser track machines, a BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler and an 09-3X track tamper.

Wednesday 28 June 2023

RailFirst EL class delivered to Rio Tinto's Paperbark Siding.

On Sunday the 25th of June 2023 the RailFirst EL class locomotives EL 51 'Might and Power' and EL 64 'Super Impose' completed their road journey from Parkeston (Kalgoorlie) to the Rio Tinto's Koodaideri (Gudai-Darri) mine railway line via Auski (Munjina) Roadhouse and were placed on Rio rails at the backtrack spur at Paperbark Siding, approx. 300 kilometres south of Port Hedland.

EL 51 'Might and Power' is the class leader, while and EL 64 'Super Impose' is the final member of the fourteen GE model C30-8 locomotives built by Goninan NSW between July 1990 and October 1991 for the then Federal Government operator Australian National.

EL 51 with serial number 8013-07/90-103 was delivered in July 1990 and originally named 'Bob Brown', after the Australian Labor politician who was the Minister for Land Transport at the time of delivery.

EL 64 with serial number 8013-07/90-116 was delivered in October 1991.

The EL class were transferred to National Rail upon start up in 1994 of the new national carrier and later, following delivery of new locomotives were subsequently returned to Australian National and then stored by 1997. In 1998 they were sold to CFCLA and rebuilt by Goninan and entered CFCLA lease service. CFCLA is now known as RailFirst, or Rail First Asset Management.

The locos and some ballast hoppers, along with some Brimble Rail track machines are expected to be at Rio for up to twelve months at this stage. The initial works are remediating the recently competed Koodaideri line.

Thursday 22 June 2023

EL class locomotives Pilbara bound.

Two RailFirst EL class locomotives were transhipped from rail to road floats at Parkeston WA on the 22nd of June 2023. They arrived in to Parkeston predawn on SCT's interstate service 2MP9.
The two EL class units are Goninan built C30-8 GE models, EL 51 serial number 8013-07 / 90-103, and EL 64 serial number 8013-10 / 91-116.

They will join eight former ARTC ballast waggons, CHRX class, which have also been road hauled to the Pilbara from Port Augusta / Spencer Junction.

The units are to be used for remedial ballast works on Rio Tinto's relatively new Koodaideri line.

A data sheet on the locomotives can be found on the RailFirst website, along with a data sheet for the CHRX ballast waggons.

Sunday 11 June 2023

FMG arvo action 1st June 2023.

Well, finally have my trusty Canon EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM back from repair after serval months since failing during September 2022. So, a test arvo out at my favourite FMG hack spot was undertaken.

First train of the arvo was FMG's EMD SD70ACe/P6 unit 725 serial number 20188761-004 leading stablemate SD70ACe/LCi unit 707 serial number 20118611-007 and General Electric 9-44CW unit 002 serial number 58179 as the triple header departs the port with an empty train for the mines. 1600 hrs 1st of June 2023.
The above image was taken at 300 mm, or full zoom, settings were an ISO of 250 and shutter of 1/640th with an aperture of F9 and handheld, pretty happy with the results as it matches the performance I experienced with the lens prior to the failure.

The above image was taken at 60 mm, settings were an ISO of 250 and shutter of 1/640th with an aperture of F9. Slightly brightened and some contrast.

Second movement of the arvo was the port pilot shunting out and back to allow another empty train to depart the port. The pilot locos were EMD SD70ACe/LCi 711 serial number 20118693-003 and GE rebuild AC44C6M 106 serial number 50634 with compressor car set CC005.
I took this shot out wide to show some of the industrial hardware that surrounds the port areas around Port Hedland. The power lines that crisscross the landscape also pass under the rail corridor. Photo detail was 50 mm at ISO 250 with a shutter of 1/800th and an aperture of F7.1.

The final movement for the arvo was a double header with FMG's EMD SD70ACe/P6 class leader locomotive 722 serial number 20188761-001 leading older stablemate SD70ACe/LCi unit 704 with serial number 20118611-004 departing the port with an empty train for the mines at 1638 hrs on the 1st of June 2023.
Taken in the golden hour before sunset, image taken at 50 mm at ISO 250 with a shutter of 1/640th and an aperture of F8.

Thursday 11 May 2023

Pilbara Rail's C36-7M units stored at Seven Mile.

These two C36-7M units are rumoured to be getting scrapped shortly. They have been sitting here on a spur within the Seven Mile complex for many years, since ~2009.

History - 5051 [Bill] started life for Mount Newman Mining as an ALCo C636 model originally numbered 5461 and built by AE Goodwin (NSW) in 1969 with serial number G-6035-2. In 1987, in a world first, eight ALCo C636 locomotives were rebuilt into GE C36-7 units, with everything above the frame new, and the bogies and fuel tanks remaining ALCo. 5461 was rebuilt by Goninan at their Welshpool WA plant into 5507 with new serial number4839-03/87-072. 5507 went on to carry several names, in 1991 the original name was transposed with 5506 following repainting from Mt Newman orange to BHP blue, then other changes took place. When delivered 5507 carried Ethel Creek. Then 5507, once wearing BHP livery carried Mt Whaleback, then Corunna Downs and finally Nimingarra. 5507 along with the entire C36-7M fleet were retired in 1999 after the new AC6000CW locomotives were delivered. After a period of storage at Nelson Point, then the Flashbutt yard, and then back to Nelson Point, they were sold, four units to Goninan and four units to Asset Kinetics.

5507 has the distinction of carrying four names for Mt Newman / BHP Iron Ore and two liveries, and then a further livery once overhauled and leased to Pilbara Rail as 5051 when used as a yard pilot loco in the striking Pilbara Rail livery operating out of Dampier's Seven Mile yard with sister loco 5052 [Ben] which is an overhauled 5508.

***Postscript, I have been informed, on the 8th of June 2023, that both 5051 and 5052 have now been moved to the 2 Mile yard, no doubt scrapping them is easier there.