Rebuilds under a Big Sky A trio of unique Montana Rail Link locomotives with a westbound freight climbs out of Helena at Tobin, Montana, heading for the 2.2% grades of Mullan Pass on the 4th of July in 1994. Lead locomotive No. 652 was originally Southern Pacific No. 4361, an SD9 overhauled at Sacramento Shops. MRL rebuilt the locomotive again in 1992, upgraded by Livingston Rebuild Center (LRC) to a SD19-1, with a new cab, Q-tron QES-1000 computer installed, an SD40 long hood and two 48" cooling fans, among other things.
Trailing unit No. 651 is former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern SD9 No. 601, and is also labeled a SD19-1. It retains a bit more of its visible SD9 heritage, but still had it’s nose was chopped, added 26RL air brakes and AAR controls by LRC 11/89. Rebuilt to SD19-1 in April 1991, it received the cab from wrecked MRL No. 205 and has a GP38 fuel tank. Even the third locomotive in the consist has an interesting history. It was originally built as Northern Pacific GP9 No. 306, later becoming MRL No. 115, and rebuilt into a GP19-1 in June 1991. All three of these locomotives were “prototypes” for GP9/SD9 rebuild programs that never went any further.