|photos contributed by: Evan Werkema, Tom C. Jones, Doyle Davis, Chris Kinoshita, Don Bowen, Lowell Amrine|
Santa Fe was in the middle of rebuilding its 20 SD39's into slug mothers at San Bernardino in November 1985 when the decision was made to paint all locomotives in the SPSF scheme. Eight units had already been released in blue and yellow and the ninth, 1569, was just out of the paint shop. The unit was sent back and repainted red and yellow prior to release. Another blue and yellow SD39, 1565, was repainted red and yellow following a minor accident at Argentine.
The peculiar number series of the rebuilt SD39's (1556-1575) was the result of the SPSF renumbering plan. Santa Fe's SD39's were to have been numbered above SP's SD38-2's (SPSF #1550-1555). The SD39's kept their SPSF numbers even after the merger denial, one of only two classes of Santa Fe locomotives that did (the 9500-class SF30C's were the other). In addition, all the SD39's were equipped with dual Snyder and Buckeye fuel fillers to allow refueling on both Santa Fe and SP.
The SD39's were rebuilt to mate with Santa Fe's 6-axle slugs for use at the Barstow, CA and Argentine (Kansas City), KS hump yards. There were more SD39's than slugs, however, and the surplus units soon found their way into general road service, as evidenced by 1564 leading a westbound freight at Belen, NM in 1986. The yellow boxes on the front and rear walkways hold the connectors for slug operation.
For the modelers, here's an aft view of SD39 1572 at Belen in 1987. Note the red brakewheel stand at the end of the long hood. The rear slug connector box is partially obscured by handrails.