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EMD: MP-15

Written by Conductor

Reading MP-15 #2780 awaits its next assignment at Pottsville, PA.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

As part of its last locomotive acquisitions, the Reading received ten 1500-horsepower MP-15 locomotives #2771-2780.  These units were purchased to replace the road's aging Alco RS-3 and EMD GP-7 locomotives in a variety of assignments.  The "MP" designation means "Multi-Purpose," meaning that although bearing a very strong "cosmetic" resemblance to the Reading's SW-1500 switchers, these units were intended for more than just yard service, as evidenced by some of their unique spotting features.  First and foremost, the MP-15s rode on Blomberg road trucks, which enabled them to better operate as a road freight unit.  In addition, the protruding sand boxes on both sides of the front of the locomotive added to the unit's sand capacity, a feature more aimed at road hauling rather than industrial or yard switching.

Rear view of MP-15 #2772 in Illinois awaiting delivery to the Reading.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.All ten MP-15s were delivered in the final 1970s "Reading Green" paint scheme.  Also, these locomotives were classified "MP-15" in accordance with their model name, as opposed to "SWE-14" or something similar along the lines of the Reading's old classification system.  Much of these units' service on the Reading was in the coal regions, operating in such locations as Pottsville, Cressona, and Tamaqua in mine and local freight service.  They were also used as power for local freights on the Reading and Columbia branch between Reading and Lancaster, and yard drilling at Saucon Creek/Bethlehem Steel.  The units were most often found operating in pairs or multiples.  All ten MP-15s were conveyed to Conrail where they continued to operate until retirement in 1989, at which point they were returned to EMD and dispersed to other railroads.

Close-up view of the rear sand filler extension on the fireman's side of Reading MP-15 #2771.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

MODELING NOTES:  Unlike most other "Reading Green" units, it appears the MP-15s did not have their road number painted on the cab roof.  Several commercial models of MP-15s have been made available in recent years.  To model a Reading unit, be sure to include the sand fillers at the front of the locomotive, as well as the large square air-filter box on the top of the hood directly in front of the locomotive cab.  Also, pay attention to minor details such as the grab irons, Sinclair antenna, and the barricade stripes on the pilots.  Finally, one detail that is often overlooked is the extended sand fill at the rear of the unit on the fireman's side, as seen in the detail view at right.  The box only appears on the fireman's side of the locomotive (as is evident from the engineer's side view at the top of the page), and could be fabricated from strip or sheet styrene - the handrail would need to be modified to seat properly as seen in the photo.

Reading MP-15 #2773 awaits delivery to the Reading.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

Today's Image

Did You Know?

July, 1947
The new Lebanon Valley Branch bridge over the Schuylkill River at Reading, PA is completed, featuring the large "READING LINES" letting.


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