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When life imitates art W


hether their layouts are extensive or tiny, model railroaders typically face a challenge: packing maximum operations into available space. A privilege they enjoy, on the other hand, is stocking their railroads with whatever motive power they choose. If they like


steam, fine, plenty available. Are contemporary wide-cab diesels their preference? No problem, nor with first-generation units. Fanciers of EMD’s sleek E-units and F-units can be well supplied, ditto Alco lovers. How about Baldwins? Perhaps tougher, but by no means impossible. Operating possibilities and motive-power freedom were what SMS Lines found in 1994 as it devel-


oped its 1-foot-to-1-foot-scale “layout” at the 3,000-acre Pureland Industrial Complex in southwest- ern New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. Since taking over a small operation there from Conrail, it has added trackage and customers. Today it switches up a storm, handling upwards of 400 cars most months over six miles of what could be considered, for SMS, “main line,” plus five miles of sidings. SMS is a coinage based on the last names of the original owners of the railroad, which currently


has three divisions in addition to Pureland: in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Of the three owners, only Jeffrey Sutch remains, as president. The original trio had come (as do a number of current employees) from the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, as do the line’s first two Baldwin diesels. In the intervening years, Pureland has evolved into a haven for Baldwins–the haven, in fact, for operating survivors of that minority diesel builder. At Pureland it’s all-Baldwin all the time (and that’s daily except Saturday). A grand total of 25 Baldwins are on the property, some des- tined to be cannibalized. Both locomotives from NH&I are on the operating roster, and one is of special interest. SMS employ-


ees include a number of rail historians, enthusiasts, and modelers, so it’s not surprising that when the DS-4-4-10 delivered in 1949 was discovered to be the last surviving Pennsylvania Railroad Baldwin diesel, note was taken, and the locomotive was backdated to its Pennsy days. Off came “non-prototypi- cal” handrails added by a subsequent owner. An air horn that honked like the original was located, along with a pair of Pennsy marker lights, and the locomotive was given back its original number, 9069. In yellow Craw Clarendon lettering, “Pennsylvania” was spread across flanks now wearing


Pennsy’s near-black dress, popularly known as “Brunswick Green.” A builder’s plate was applied, al- beit as a decal, an expedient borrowed from model railroading. Most SMS power wears a Reading-in- spired green and yellow scheme, with black diamond logo. The other NH&I refugee, now SMS No. 101, a DS-4-4-10 like the Pennsy engine, is dressed in Reading green, though it hasn’t operated in roughly a decade. Another livery maverick is VO-1000 No. 412, blue and lettered for the Baltimore & Ohio (though the locomotive never served the B&O). SMS is storing No. 412 for owner United Rail- road Historical Society of New Jersey, with a quid pro quo of using the locomotive occasionally. Why Baldwins, other than availability at the start-up? “They’ll pull anything,” says Brian Murray, the general manager. “They’re well-suited to this


work.” Often the work involves heavy hauling, since roughly twice a month SMS receives 80-car unit trains of ethanol from CSX over the SMS connection with Conrail Shared Assets, bound for a transloading facility adjacent to the SMS shops. And it helps that the aging and sometimes cantan- kerous locomotives are never far from those shops, which are undergoing a major upgrading and expansion. “SMS has become a magnet for Baldwins,” Murray says. “Those who have them for sale get in


touch with us.” In November, 2010, when I made my first visit to SMS (enthusiast-friendly when visitors have


checked in at the office and signed releases), No. 9069 was the Baldwin of the day. When I went back last May, No. 300 (ex-Navy S-12, built in 1952) was doing the honors. Its morning work took it to the interchange, then the nearby Home Depot Regional Distribution Center, among SMS’s biggest customers, with lumber flats and boxcars. Much like a model railroader seeking more operating possibilities, SMS has laid track to serve new


industries; the major addition was the Southern Extension to ADS Pipe. Other than the ethanol trains, SMS practices classic “loose-car” railroading, increasingly rare on the prototype scene. A final wrinkle: a steam locomotive–ex-Army 0-6-0, also a NH&I refugee, built by Alco in 1942–


is under restoration at the shops for possible freight service. So perhaps SMS will not be all-Bald- win forever.


KARL ZIMMERMANN 44


photography/KARL ZIMMERMANN DECEMBER 2011


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