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Written by Conductor

Reading SW1 #17 near the end of its service, outside the Locomotive Shops in Reading, PA.

Reading SW1 #20 awaits disposition outside the Reading Locomotive Shops.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.The EMD SW1 was the second type of EMD diesel switching locomotive to be ordered by the Reading.  The first three 600 horsepower locomotives were delivered in March, 1939.  Numbered #16 - 18 and assigned the Reading class OE-5, the SW1 went into service in the Philadelphia area.  The following year, SW1s #19 through #22 arrived, while the final two locomotives, #23 and #24 were delivered, bringing the total number of SW1s on the roster to 9.  These locomotives spent most of their service along the Philadelphia waterfront, where their smaller size allowed them to better negotiate the tight curves of the industrial and pier trackage.  However, they did see occasional service in the Coatesville area, while #16 and #24 even saw service at Newberry Junction!

Reading SW1 #24.  Note the spark arrestor and the bell mounted on the very front of the hood.During 1970 and 1971, the Reading decided to rebuild the class OE 3/13 SW locomotives #10-15.  This would be the second rebuilding for these units, as they had been previously overhauled in 1956.  The 1970/71 rebuild converted #10-15 into SW900m locomotives.  This effort caused the retirement and demise of SW1s #16-20, as they were scavenged for parts to be used in the rebuilding effort.  In addition, while #21 was retired in the 1970s, SW1s #22-24 remained in service into the Conrail era.  The SW1s were a unique early EMD switcher that served the Reading well from before World War II through the railroad's twilight years!

Reading SW1 #21 after its retirement, in the dead line outside the Locomotive Shops.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

MODELING NOTES:  The SW1s were all painted in the Pullman Green 1st-generation diesel paint scheme, and none were repainted into later schemes.  The pictures on this page show the details common to early EMD switchers - large single headlights, lack of handrails along the walkway, etc.  The SW1s were unique in that their bells were mounted at the front of the locomotive rather than further back toward the cab.  Also, these locomotives had a rounded sand box at the front of the hood, under the radiator.  This feature was not seen on later EMD switchers.  Note the yellow journal box covers and the manner in which only part of the handrails are painted yellow.  Operationally, these units were seen mostly in Philadelphia, though they did work elsewhere as noted in the text.  If you're modeling the post 1970-1971 period, bear in mind that SW1s #16-20 were used to rebuild the SWs #10-14 into SW900m locomotives  #1516-1520. 

Today's Image

Did You Know?

September 23, 1955
The Blandon Low Grade line enters service.


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