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Union Pacific Diesel Paint Schemes

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This page was last updated on July 9, 2016.

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Missouri Pacific

MoPac Renumbering And Repainting

In mid-March 1984, about 15 months after its December 1982 control of Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific, Union Pacific announced that all of the Missouri Pacific-owned locomotives would be repainted into UP's yellow and gray scheme, using Missouri Pacific lettering. The first unit (MP SD40-2 3291) was completed on May 14, 1984, with two others completed soon after. In preparation for the upcoming repainting effort, during the first two weeks of March 1984, painters from Missouri Pacific's North Little Rock, Arkansas, shop were sent to UP's shops in North Platte, Nebraska, for training in the painting of UP yellow and gray. (Union Pacific INFO magazine, March 1984, page 10)

Also in mid March 1984, in a test of a possible new post-merger paint scheme, UP's North Platte, Nebraska, paint shop completed a single locomotive with an experimental scheme, consisting of a solid yellow unit, with black underframe and trucks, with Missouri Pacific initials and number. Originally a Missouri Pacific unit was sought for the test, but UP SD40 3030 was next in line for a standard paint job, and was selected as the test unit, giving it the distinction of being an Missouri Pacific unit for just a couple hours. After its brief stint as MP 3030, UP 3030 was immediately returned to the North Platte paint shop for its standard UP yellow and gray scheme.

In July 1984, Union Pacific announced that Missouri Pacific units were to be repainted yellow with MP lettering. There were a total of 1,445 locomotives to be repainted. (Union Pacific INFO magazine, July 1984, page 3-4)

The new Missouri Pacific yellow scheme replaced Missouri Pacific's traditional "Dark Eagle Blue", also known as "Jenks" blue, named for Downing B. Jenks, CEO of Missouri Pacific. Jenks blue first appeared in 1962 with the delivery of the 400-class GP18s. The Missouri Pacific blue scheme included blue on the car body, underframe, trucks, and fuel tank, with white accent stripes on either the front only for road units, or on both ends if the unit was assigned to local and switching service. Although the last new units delivered in MP Jenks blue were MP15DC 1392 in November 1982 and GP15AC 1744 in December, the last unit to be repainted in Missouri Pacific's blue was SD40-2 3270, completed sometime in late March or early April 1984.

As a side note, during the summer of 1984 UP held a Family Days in St. Louis. They ran the employee free-ride train, using UP cars of course, with MP 3291 on one end and freshly-painted blue MP 3270 on the other end. The day's operations had the special train operating from Vandeventer out to Webster Groves or Maplewood and back, as time permitted. (Information from Mark Bess, via email to the MoPac discussion group at YahooGroups, October 8, 2004.)

Missouri Pacific's version of the UP yellow scheme would include standard UP yellow and gray, but using Missouri Pacific-style "North Little Rock" lettering for the cab side numbers and to spell out Missouri Pacific on the hood side, both in UP's red with black edging colors. The Missouri Pacific version of UP's yellow and gray scheme included gray trucks and gray anti-glare panels on top of the short hood, features which UP itself adopted at the same time, replacing UP's standard aluminum trucks and green anti-glare panels. Missouri Pacific still retained its identity on the locomotives until January 1, 1986 when the operation departments of the two railroads were consolidated.

Between mid May 1984 and mid November 1985, 275 units were repainted from Missouri Pacific blue to Missouri Pacific yellow, using Missouri Pacific lettering, including 246 ex Missouri Pacific locomotives, 22 ex CRI&P GP40s, and seven ex WP GP40s and GP40-2s. During November and December 1984, Missouri Pacific received 60 new EMD SD60s, all delivered in the new Missouri Pacific yellow scheme. During September to November 1985, Missouri Pacific also received 60 new GE C36-7s, also in the new Missouri Pacific yellow scheme. These new deliveries made a final total of 395 yellow and gray locomotives with Missouri Pacific lettering. These 395 units soon became known as "Missouri Pacific Canaries." The first Missouri Pacific yellow units to be completed were done at the former Missouri Pacific shops in Kansas City and Houston. The first Missouri Pacific yellow unit to be painted at the new Downing B. Jenks Shops in North Little Rock, was MP SD40-2 6002, completed on August 13, 1984.

In the same May 31, 1984 news release that UP announced that they would start painting Missouri Pacific units to UP yellow and gray, they also announced that locomotives of the Missouri Pacific would be renumbered to avoid conflict with UP's own fleet of locomotives. A renumbering plan for the consolidation of the UP, MP, and WP locomotives fleets was finally worked out by late 1985. The final version, called "Revision D", was approved on December 19, 1985 (with "Revision B" having been approved just two weeks before), with some final changes done in February 1986. In another announcement that affected Missouri Pacific fans everywhere, on December 8, 1985, Union Pacific announced that the Missouri Pacific name, the Missouri Pacific "Screaming Eagle" emblem, and the Missouri Pacific "buzz-saw" logo would be removed from all former Missouri Pacific equipment.

The plan for the renumbering and change of lettering for Missouri Pacific locomotives included locomotive renumberings that the railroad soon found to be confusing and unnecessary. Reflecting Missouri Pacific input, renumberings were to follow Missouri Pacific tradition of closing any gaps caused by retirements of single locomotives. This "close-the-gap" philosophy included new UP road numbers for the Missouri Pacific B23-7s, assigned to fill the number slot left by the retirement of MP 4636, wrecked in 1984. The slot assigned to MP 4636, UP 136, was closed and all later units were to be bumped down one number to fill in the gap. Thus when MP 4662 was finished on December 13, 1985, it was given UP 161 as its road number (it had carried UP 4662 from November 11th, showing that the renumbering plan was still in a state of change). UP later decided that this seemingly minor change in a unit's last two digits was unnecessary, and UP 161 was renumbered, or "corrected," to UP 162 on April 2, 1986. Other examples of this "close the gap" renumbering included some of the Missouri Pacific SD40s.

The expiration of the 15-year lease for Missouri Pacific SD40s 3034-3053 in July 1984, and the planned return to the owner/lessor upon expiration of the 15-year lease for SD40s MP 3070-3089 in May 1986, left a gap of 40 units in the SD40 fleet. The original renumbering plan closed this gap by renumbering Missouri Pacific's SD40s and SD40-2s to UP road numbers that were 40 numbers less than their Missouri Pacific numbers, thus, instead of becoming UP 4158, MP 3158 was renumbered to UP 4118, subtracting 40 from its last two digits. The later decision to not close the gap and "correct" those units already renumbered, left UP road numbers 4034-53 and 4070-4089 blank and unused. A major change that resulted from this "correction" was that the 75 Missouri Pacific SD40-2Cs, numbered as MP 6000-6073, would be numbered as UP 3900-3974 rather than as UP 4222-4295.

Twenty-five units were repainted to UP yellow and renumbered to their new UP numbers during the uncertain period of transition from Missouri Pacific numbers to UP numbers in November 1985 to February 1986. Of those 25 units, the numbers for 12 units were later "corrected." Included were three GE B23-7s (MP 4616, 4662, 4679) and a single 12-cylinder B30-7A (MP 4844). All four were completed during early to mid November 1985 as UP 4616, UP 4662, UP 4679, and UP 4844, retaining their old Missouri Pacific numbers. As mentioned above, UP 4662 became UP 161 (1st) on December 13, 1985, and was corrected to UP 162 on April 2, 1986. UP 4616 became UP 116 on August 4, 1986; UP 4679 became UP 179 on April 21, 1986; and UP 4844 became UP 244 on April 3, 1986.

The other units to have their numbers corrected were eight SD40-2s (MP 3158, 3202, 3203, 3204, 3205, 3207, 3208, 3209) assigned to hump service in Kansas City. These eight units were renumbered from their Missouri Pacific numbers to new UP numbers between January 14th and February 10, 1986, with 40 numbers subtracted from their original last two digits, becoming UP 4118, 4162, 4163, 4164, 4165, 4167, 4168, 4169. These units were all corrected to UP 4158, 4202, 4203, 4204, 4205, 4207, 4208, and 4209 between March 5th and April 22, 1986. In a final note from this confusing period of renumber dates, MP B30-7A 4808 was also repainted to yellow and given its new number, UP 4808, on December 6, 1985. But it was renumbered to UP 208 prior to its release from Jenks Shop in North Little Rock on December 6, 1985.

The 100 class B23-7s, they were originally to be renumbered into the UP 200 class, and the B30-7s were to be in the 300 class. The 100 class was not used because UP's business car fleet occupied that class, from 100 to 114. As part of the changes to the renumbering plan in December 1985, the business cars were given names rather than numbers, vacating the 100 class and making it available for use by locomotives.

MoPac Yellow and Gray Units With "North Little Rock" Lettering

Between November 22, 1985 and July 1, 1986, all Missouri Pacific units, and some UP units, painted at the Jenks Shops at North Little Rock, Arkansas. (147 total), were painted to UP's yellow and gray, using Union Pacific lettering in the square "North Little Rock" (NLR) style. After July 1986, some switchers continued receiving NLR lettering, including the last, UP 1319, on October 2, 1986. Below is a list of former Missouri Pacific locomotives that were completed with NLR lettering. Included in the list are six UP SD40-2s known to have received NLR lettering: UP 3213, 3246, 3248, 3276, and 3711.

MoPac GP15-1 Lettering

An interesting side note is the experimentation that took place with the GP15-1s, and the combination of Missouri Pacific lettering and yellow and gray paint on those units. MP 1708 was the first Missouri Pacific GP15-1 to be painted yellow, in early July 1984. The second GP15-1 to be painted yellow was MP 1690, in late August 1984. MP 1690 was lettered using 16-inch switcher lettering instead of the standard 20-inch road unit lettering. This was done to fit the longer wording of Missouri Pacific on to the GP15-1s hood side. The third GP15-1 to be painted yellow, MP 1588, wasn't completed until late October 1984. On this unit, Missouri Pacific modified the standard placement of UP's two-inch upper red stripe by raising it far enough to allow the last letters of the Missouri Pacific lettering to fit the above the radiator intake grilles at the rear of the hood side. All of the subsequent 31 Missouri Pacific GP15-1s, up to MP 1650 (released on November 4, 1985), were painted in the Missouri Pacific yellow and gray scheme with this striping change. The first GP15-1 to be released in UP yellow, with Union Pacific lettering, was UP 1654, on November 26, 1985, with the stripe placed back down where it was originally.

MoPac SD50 And C36-7 Lettering

Missouri Pacific's 5000 class SD50s and 9000 class C36-7s were delivered new in yellow and gray, with Missouri Pacific lettering. Missouri Pacific's 3500 class GP50s are the only Missouri Pacific class in which every unit within the class was repainted to yellow and gray and lettered for Missouri Pacific.

MoPac Oddities And Single Unit Repaints

Oddities and single unit repaints include: GP15-1 1690, with small switcher lettering; MP15DC 1379, with larger freight unit lettering; B30-7A 4811 with narrower yellow band between gray side sills and gray top, causing the lettering to be located lower on the hood sides; SW1200 1153, the only Missouri Pacific older-EMD switcher to be painted yellow and gray, and also the first unit to be painted yellow and gray at Houston; SW1500 1518, the only Missouri Pacific SW1500 to be painted yellow and gray, with Missouri Pacific lettering; GP38 2007, the only GP38 in yellow and gray, with Missouri Pacific lettering; and U30Cs 2965, 2967, 2968, and 2970, the only U30Cs to be painted yellow and gray. The four U30Cs were completed during October 1984 and traded to GE on new C36-7s only eight months later.

Final MoPac Repaints

After MP 2310 became UP 2310 on November 16, 1993, there were only two more ex-Missouri Pacific units repainted, MP 2092 and MP 2103, both being part of a 37-unit group which UP had planned to return to their owner at the expiration of their lease in 1994. However, due to a motive power shortage, only 22 units of the 37-unit group were returned to their owner, Helm Financial.

The remaining 15 units of this 37-unit group were retained for an additional 10 years, until 2004. Included in this remaining 15-unit group were the two last ex-Missouri Pacific units to be repainted from Missouri Pacific blue to UP yellow and gray, numbers 2092 and 2103. MP 2092 became UP 2092 on June 2, 1994, and MP 2103, the last Missouri Pacific blue unit on UP, became UP 2103 on August 2, 1994. Other than these two units, there were no ex-Missouri Pacific units repainted from Missouri Pacific blue to UP yellow and gray during 1994. With the merger between UP and C&NW in April 1995, these 15 units were renumbered into the 1800 class, as 1829-1843, following the 29 former Missouri Pacific GP38-2s leased from Helm in 1989.

The last MP-lettered yellow unit to be relettered to UP was ex MP MP15DC 1382, completed on November 23, 1993. The last MP blue unit to be repainted and relettered to UP yellow was ex MP GP38-2 2103, completed on August 2, 1994.

The following tables show the last examples of other Missouri Pacific locomotive types, in either Missouri Pacific blue or Missouri Pacific yellow, to receive UP road numbers, lettering, and yellow and gray paint:

Last MoPac Blue to UP yellow

Model Number Date
MP15 (blue) 1378 November 16, 1992
GP15-1 (blue) 1685 October 11, 1993
GP38-2 (blue) 2103 August 2, 1994
GP50 (blue) [all repainted to Missouri Pacific yellow]
SD40-2 (blue) 4111 December 18, 1990

Last MoPac yellow to UP yellow

Model Number Date
MP15 (yellow) 1382 November 23, 1993
GP15-1 (yellow) 1694 September 2, 1993
GP38-2 (yellow) 2214 November 10, 1993
GP50 (yellow) 3504 January 17, 1992
SD40-2 (yellow) 4270 September 14, 1993

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