SP Roseville Repaints

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This page was last updated on February 20, 2019.

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During September 1999, there were 11 ex-SP SD40T-2s repainted by UP shop forces at Roseville, California, into SP's gray, with scarlet ends (no wings on side of short hood), and SP initials on the hood side. All 11 locomotives remained in service operating between Roseville and Oakland, California, and vicinity.

The 11 locomotives were part the larger group of 239 SD40T-2 locomotives operated by SP, with 230 locomotives still on SP's roster at the time of the UP-SP merger. All 11 units were built in March to July 1980 as part of EMD order 78265, numbered as SP 8230-8299 (70 units).

The List

The "Roseville 11" units, with their subsequent disposition:

SP Road
UP Road
Date To
UP Number
Date Retired
Before Repaint
After Repaint
SP 8232 UP 8850 16 Jan 2001 14 Apr 2004 SP 8232 SP 8232
SP 8233 UP 8784 20 Feb 2001 14 Apr 2004 SP 8233 SP 8233
SP 8241 UP 8852 18 Aug 2001 24 Jan 2008 SP 8241 SP 8241
SP 8247 (UP 8853) (not renumbered) 27 Jun 2000 SP 8247 SP 8247
SP 8250 (UP 8796) (not renumbered) 27 Jun 2000 SP 8250 SP 8250
SP 8256 UP 8801 7 Jul 2001 26 Dec 2001 SP 8256 SP 8256
SP 8258 (UP 8857) (not renumbered) 22 Aug 2001 SP 8258
SP 8259 UP 8803 21 Aug 2001 12 Apr 2010 SP 8259 SP 8259
SP 8261 UP 8804 26 Sep 2003 14 Apr 2004 SP 8261 SP 8261
SP 8263 UP 8858 12 Dec 2000 29 Aug 2001 SP 8263 SP 8263
SP 8296 UP 8868 30 Jul 2001 24 Jan 2008 SP 8296 SP 8296

The Story

None of the units repainted at Roseville had been overhauled or rebuilt. UP's only overhaul shop at the time was Jenks Shop in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and it was the only shop on the system with a paint facility. None of these repainted units went through the Jenks shop. If they had, they would be yellow with UP numbers and lettering.

SP had stopped painting its own locomotives in the 1990s, and Roseville did not have a designated paint shop. But the shop had retained the capability to repaint the occasional wreck repair or interior of locomotive cabs.

There was much speculation in the railfan community as to the reason the "Roseville 11" were repainted, including the local forces in Roseville having done the repainting on their own, to reduce the numbers of ex-SP units that had become quite shabby in their appearance due to rust and deteriorating paint.

After the 11 locomotives were repainted, they returned to their assignments in shuttle service between Roseville and other yards relatively close by, so they were somewhat captive to Roseville. The repainted locomotives were seen regularly on manifest "haulers" from Roseville to Oakland, Warm Springs, Stockton, and Fresno, as well as on Donner Pass as helpers.

Speculation was that local management did not want a few truly shabby looking units sitting around that new $150 million Roseville yard where everything else is either brand new or repainted.

The vast majority of SP units still in grey had paint that was in fairly good shape, since they were either new within the past six to eight years or they had been overhauled and repainted in the early 1990s. There were a few hundred locomotives running around that hadn't seen a paint booth since they were built in the mid 1970s.

By the end of March 2000, after much speculation and comment among railfans, the nearest explanation was that the pride of several former SP employees at Roseville got the best of them. It would seem to be hard to hide the repainting of several locomotives, but that's exactly what had happened. While pride in the SP was *not* discouraged, there have been very specific requests that pride in the former SP should not again become so apparent.

The story on these 11 units is that some UP (former SP) employees took their dedication a bit too far by "touching up" some SP units whose paint had deteriorated badly. The choices were to either send them to UP's Jenks shops in North Little Rock to get repainted into full UP paint (and possibly not return to operate on SP rails again), or repaint the units themselves into their "proper" SP paint. Someone with proper authority made sure UP actually owned the units, as opposed to merely leasing them, and ordered the painting supplies that would be needed.

The units were brought into the former SP shops at Roseville and repainted into their proper SP gray and scarlet red paint schemes. No SP lettering was available, so the units received simplified SP block lettering. The apparent justification was to bring the units into compliance with Rule 5.11 of the General Code of Operating Rules, which states, "Trains will be identified by initials and engine number, adding the direction where required."

Many railfan rumors got started that the federal Federal Railroad Administration forced UP to repaint the units because their paint had deteriorated so badly. Other rumors about FRA rules said that a locomotive's ownership must be obvious and readable. Contrary to all these railfan rumors, there is no FRA requirement that a locomotive be either painted or fully lettered. Neither is there any FRA requirement that a locomotive have any sort of reporting mark, which is an AAR interchange requirement. FRA rules (49 CFR 229.11, paragraph b) require that a locomotive's number must be visible, as well as its front end must be so designated, but FRA does not require any kind of lettering or reporting mark, or paint to be in "serviceable" condition.

Later research found that when the new Western Region Vice President arrived in Roseville to take over his new position in the summer of 1999 (Roseville's new hump yard had opened in May 1999), he noticed several "ratty" looking T-2s, and issued verbal instructions to get them repainted. The ownership of the units was checked and they were found to be owned by SP(UP) rather than leased. The management of the Roseville diesel shop did not want to send the units to UP's only paint shop in North Little Rock. Instead, they decided to take advantage of the loophole in California's environmental laws that allowed touch up of paint for industrial purposes. They used their purchase authority to buy some SP paint and had the painters cut some SP decals. The units were placed in Roseville shop, washed, and painted into the simplified scheme that was seen by so many railfans, with all-grey carbodies, red ends, without wings on the noses, and just "SP" on the carbody sides. By the time that 11 units had been completed, the railfans noticed and naturally wanted to know the the story. Word soon reached UP management in Omaha and cease and desist orders were immediately issued, or as John Bromley put it in March 2000, "a couple of shops in California were surrounded and the painters were told to drop their red and gray paint and come out with their guilty hands up."

The truth is that some former SP employees simply overstepped their authority and repainted some "ratty" looking SP units, without the units losing their SP heritage. The railfan community is somewhat to blame here because as they started seeing the repainted units, the fans started asking questions. No disciplinary action was taken, the program simply came to an end after being discovered. One of the employees involved later said that he was quite surprised at how fast the railfans reacted, saying that the program would have completed several more units if the railfans hadn't gotten so excited.

The red noses from 1999 faded pretty quickly and by April 2003, there were still five patched "Roseville" pink nosed SD40T-2s running around the UP system with UP8850 (ex-SP8232), UP8784 (ex-SP8233). UP8852 (ex-SP8241), UP8803 (ex-SP8259) and UP8868 (ex-SP8296). (Ryan Martin, email dated April 18, 2003)

Unfortunately, the new paint jobs didn't age well. By the time UP 8801 (ex-SP 8256) hit the Roseville deadline in 2002, the red nose had already faded to a chalky pink, and the stick-on SP letters on the sides of several units had begun to fall off. (Evan Werkema, email dated June 26, 2006)

SP's SD40T-2 Fleet

Original total of 239 SP/SSW units, 231 units went to UP at merger; SP retired eight units (SP 8260, 8278, 8302, 8317, 8320, 8338, 8502, and 8507) prior to the merger.

Of the original 239 SP/SSW units, 84 units were fitted with extended noses, 80 of those 84 units went to UP at merger (SP retired four units prior to the merger).

The 84 units with extended noses were part of the original SP orders in 1974 and 1978-1979 (SP 8300-8341 and 8350-8391) for 84 units (42 pairs) that were equipped to operate in radio-controlled mid-train helper service; 14 units (ex SP/SSW 8300-8306 and 8350-8356) are fitted with 116-inch extended noses; 70 units (ex SP/SSW 8307-8341 and 8557-8391) are fitted with 123-inch extended noses.

Many of the 230 units were renumbered to UP out of SP/SSW sequence due to different ownership and lease arrangements.

All 230 units assigned UP 4369-4599 in September 1997 (66 units renumbered).

All 230 units assigned UP 8639-8869 in December 1999; 75 units renumbered (four refurbished and renumbered to 2866 series), 95 units retired prior to being renumbered to UP numbers; 62 units were refurbished in 1997-2000, and assigned numbers in 2866-2949 group in August 2000.

SP 8230-8299 March to July 1980 786265-1 to -70 70
SP 8300-8306 June and July 1974 73629-1 to -7 7
SP 8307-8321 February to April 1978 776069-1 to -15 15
SSW 8322-8326 January 1978 776075-1 to -5 5
SP 8327-8341 March to May 1979 786175-1 to -15 15
(SP 8342-8349)     0
SP 8350-8356 June and July 1974 73685-1 to -7 7
SP 8357-8371 February and March 1978 776070-1 to -15 15
SSW 8372-8376 January and February 1978 776076-1 to -5 5
SP 8377-8391 May to July 1979 786201-1 to -15 15
(SP 8392-8488)     0
SP 8489-8498 January and February 1978 776068-1 to -10 10
SP 8499-8573 November 1978 to February 1979 786174-1 to -75 75