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MRT blue-and-white diesel locomotives in HO scale

By Cody Grivno | June 22, 2022

Meet Milwaukee, Racine & Troy locomotives of the blue-and-white era (1989 to 2003)

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MR&T blue-and-white diesel locomotives: Photo of three locomotives on white background.

MRT blue-and-white diesel locomotives: The Milwaukee, Racine & Troy, Model Railroader’s staff layout, has been around for more than 45 years. Similar to many full-size railroads, the freelanced MR&T has changed paint schemes on its diesel locomotives over the years. The railroad’s second paint scheme was Amtrak Blue and Reefer White, used from 1989 to 2003.

MR&T blue-and-white diesel locomotives: Photo of three locomotives on white background.

Many full-size railroads experimented with or adopted high-visibility schemes for their locomotives in the 1980s, and the MR&T followed suit. Andy Sperandeo adapted Jim Hediger’s scheme by applying white to the cab, nose, and front pilot. Bill Zuback photo

MR&T blue-and-white diesel locomotives: Photo of three locomotives on white background.
Photo of blue and white road locomotive on white background

Milwaukee, Racine & Troy no. 601 is a General Electric BQ23-7 painted by MR&T operator Andy Hayek. The “Q” in the designation stands four Quarters Cab, which provided room for extra crew members on trains that didn’t have a caboose. Only 10 prototype units were built, all for the Seaboard Coast Line. Bill Zuback photo

Photo of blue and white road locomotive on white background
Photo of blue-and-white four-axle road locomotive on white background.

Electro-Motive Division GP38-2 no. 719 is a custom-painted Athearn model. The spark arrestors, eye bolts, fuel tank details, all-weather window, wire grab irons, uncoupling levers, and snow plow are all aftermarket detail parts. Bill Zuback photo

Photo of blue-and-white four-axle road locomotive on white background.
Photo of blue-and-white locomotive on a scenicked model railroad with hills and river.

Milwaukee, Racine & Troy no. 1000 was the class unit of the blue-and-white Electro-Motive Division SD40-2 fleet. The unit is shown on the point of Trailer Train West, an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe run-through train, at Winter Hill on the original MR&T. Paul A. Erler photo

Photo of blue-and-white locomotive on a scenicked model railroad with hills and river.
Photo of blue-and-white six-axle road locomotive on white background

The 1002 is a custom-decorated Athearn model. Among the aftermarket details added to the six-axle road unit are a rooftop beacon, three-chime air horn, firecracker antenna, and all-weather window. Bill Zuback photo

Photo of blue-and-white six-axle road locomotive on white background
Photo of HO scale locomotive body shell painted blue and white on white background.

The mechanisms on the blue-and-white SD40-2s were modified for use with the Dynatrol system. We were in the process of remotoring MR&T no. 1009 for use on the current MR&T when the picture was taken. The body shell is detailed to match SD40-2 diesels 1000 and 1002. Bill Zuback photo

Photo of HO scale locomotive body shell painted blue and white on white background.

 

The excerpt below from Milwaukee, Racine & Troy: The inside story of Model Railroader’s club layout discusses the Amtrak Blue and Reefer White paint scheme:

The Amtrak Blue and Reefer White paint scheme made its print debut in the December 1989 MR feature on the 1027-era MR&T. A caption with the story noted, “The all-blue MR&T paint scheme is being phased out by the new white-nose scheme, with its better visibility at highway grade crossings.”

I credited Sperandeo with designing the MRT blue-and-white diesel locomotives scheme in my January 2014 MR article on the MR&T heritage fleet, unaware that he was saying others came up with the idea. After the story was published, Joe Loggans of Vancouver, Wash., wrote a letter to Railway Post Office. “For years, other members of the [Crescent City Model Railroading Club] ribbed me about how Andy had ‘borrowed’ my paint scheme,” Joe wrote in the April 2014 MR. “After asking him, ‘Who came up with the idea of using blue and white?” he replied with a grin on his face, “Well, I think it was Russ Larson’s or Jim Hediger’s idea. It wasn’t me.”

“After all these years, I always wondered if Andy was pulling my leg, and now the mystery is solved! So let it be known, the Arkansas Valley came first, not the other way around.”

3 thoughts on “MRT blue-and-white diesel locomotives in HO scale

  1. Thank you for posting these photos, Cody. all very cook.
    You can never post too much of the MRT!

  2. Cody,
    I didn’t know if you caught my post on Facebook. Check your dates. The MR&T blue and white first appeared in the January 84 50th anniversary issue. Check out the picture of the scratch built SBD SD50. Second unit is a blue and white MR&T. Andy did admit to me years later that he was looking for a new scheme for the MR&T and loved the blue and white AV scheme. With everything happening now with the Arkansas Valley, I owe it all to Andy. RIP ol’ friend.

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