|photos contributed by: Evan Werkema, Doyle Davis, Tom C. Jones, Chris Kinoshita, Don Bowen, Blaine Bachman|
The SF30C program, which turned 70 GE U36C's into new 3000 hp locomotives, spanned the SPSF-repainting era from beginning to end. The first ten, 9500-9509, were released before mid-November 1985 in blue and yellow. Over the next nine months, SF30C's 9510-9553 were outshopped in red and yellow. With the merger denial in July 1986, it was back to blue and yellow for the remainder of the fleet, 9554-9569. The final score was 44 red, 26 blue. The SPSF scheme fit the big units well, though one has to wonder how they planned to squeeze the other pair of initials onto that narrow nose.
The SF30Cs' 9500-series numbers were the result of the SPSF numbering plan. They also fit Santa Fe's pre-merger numbering scheme, where 6-axle GE's were numbered 7500 and above, so the numbers were kept even after the merger was rejected.
The tank on unit 9536's running board, found on many SF30C's in the late '80's, held flange lubricating oil. It was part of an experiment to see if locomotive-mounted lubricators could replace trackside devices. Apparently the results were not convincing, and the tanks were ultimately removed.
The SF30C's were at home on the original main line north of Albuquerque, NM. Sixty-one of them (9508-9568) were equipped with RCE gear, and were used extensively over Glorieta and Raton Passes where trains frequently required mid-train helpers. RCE-leader 9528, along with 9548, 9518, and an unidentified SD40-2, hustle a westbound manifest past the blades at Bernalillo, NM in August 1990. Back in the mid-train are SD40-2 5211, SF30C 9569, and an odd-numbered red and yellow SF30C (the RCE receiver). Their exhaust can be seen in the distance.
SF30C's 9500-9535 sported another relic of the SPSF era - dual fuel fillers. Santa Fe used Snyder-type fillers while SP preferred Buckeye, so in anticipation of the merger, Santa Fe units remanufactured between January 1985 and March 1986 were equipped with both types of fillers to allow servicing on either road. The two fillers can be seen above the fuel tank on 9528.