Photo copyright by Tom Parker

Reprinted from the January 1998 "Keeping Track" Illinois Central Employee Newsletter


In response to a challenge from CEO Hunter Harrison, Mechanical Superintendent Jim Danielwicz's team built a state-of-the-art SD4O-3 locomotive at the Woodcrest Shop. Explains Danielwicz, "We have top-notch talent in our shops and we have the resources, so we decided to build ourselves a locomotive."

First, Danielwicz and his crew needed a suitable foundation for their work. IC Locomotive #6031 fit the bill; its steel body is solid but its guts had been destroyed in an electrical fire. #6031 had been an SD4O-2 in its prior life, but Danielwicz wanted state-of-the-art electronics and microprocessor and decided to build it to unique SD40-3 specifications.

Many employees were involved in this giant project. All major components had to be rebuilt: the alternator, the air compressor, and the prime mover, which was upgraded from 3000 HP to 3200 HP. "The electrical system was the biggest challenge," reports Foreman Tom Fitzgerald. "Since we were creating our own hybrid, there is noeasy assembly manual. We had to figure out most of this as we went along."

But it's worth the work. The advanced computer technology of the microprocessor (like the ones in our new SD7O's) provides electronic fuel gauge, digital read-outs, superior load-management capability, and sophisticated diagnostic testing.

"In only eight months and for only about one-third the cost of buying new, we built ourselves a locomotive that should give us at least 25 years of reliable service life," says Danielwicz. At the end of October, the locomotive got a new paint job and was re-christened #6200.

The shop seems to thrive on challenges. They are doing contract work, repairing locomotives for other companies, such as the South Shore Railroad, to more fully utilize the Woodcrest facility. And a couple years ago they rescued an old, beat-up, 1950 Pullman-built sleeper car from a storage track in Jackson, gutted and rebuilt it, using teak wood for accents throughout the car.