Western Pacific 708

1952 EMD GP7

 

Model:  GP7

Prime Mover:  EMD 567B - 16 Cylinder

Builder:  Electro-Motive Division

Horsepower:  1500

Built:  October 1952

Operating Weight:  251,700 lbs.

Builder #:  17056

Length:  56 ft. 2 in.

Status:  Display

Maximum Speed:  65 MPH

 

 

Western Pacific 708 has been described by members and visitors both in many ways, but "beautiful" is not usually one of them.  You would be hard pressed to find very many people that even like the green and orange paint job 708 wears, even when freshly painted.  708's "Perlman Green" and orange paint job is faded, peeling, and well worn.  The black trucks and undercarriage show spots of surface rust here and there, and overall, she looks tired.  Visitors to the WPRM have asked on numerous occasions when we are going to paint the engine.

 

The answer usually surprises them at first, until we explain why:  We're not going to, at least not for the foreseeable future, and for good reason.  The 708 represents the Western Pacific's venerable locomotive fleet in its final years of operation prior to its merger with the Union Pacific.  Locomotives like the 708 could be found throughout the 1970's and early 80's quietly working out their days spotting industries, working various branch lines, and switching in train yards all over the WP system.  The engines were kept in decent running shape, however, due to their age and duties, rarely did they receive any attention in the paint shop.  To put it simply, paint doesn't pull trains and engines like the 708 were no longer front line locomotive power, highly visible to the public.

 

Despite this, the 708 toiled on in relative obscurity and performed duties that were every bit as important as her newer, stronger, turbocharged, sisters plying the main line, picking up and delivering freight to its final destinations and classifying freight in yards all over the WP.

 

Since we have three other examples of WP and Sacramento Northern GP7's, we felt it important to preserve and present the 708 in its "as working" appearance.  It is important to note that locomotives are rarely kept polished or have their paint touched up when in service on the railroads.  Despite the WP's system locomotive shop in Stockton having a fully functioning wash rack to keep the roads locomotives clean, most of the older locomotives like 708 only came home to Stockton for repairs or maintenance, and immediately sent back to work.

 

WP 708 takes a break at Oroville, California during the later years of the Western Pacific.

WP 708 on display at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California.