07 August, 2012

Sprague's Gravel Co. #1 out of Paint Shop

August 7, 1980
ex-WM #76, now owned by the Virginia Midland Railroad & in long-term lease livery as SGCX #1.  Conductor's side view.

Spotsylvania Co., VA - Locomotive Repaint by Local Business is Boon for 'Local Industry'.   While the National economy may be 'circling the drain' as a whole, local businesses worked together to make some welcome news and a shot in the arm for the local economy.  The Virginia Midland Shops (Shan Crabtree, owner & operator) has completed a repaint and refurbishment of an older locomotive, being leased for plant use by Sprague's Gravel Company, in Verdon, VA. 

It all started when the power-short Chessie (former Chesapeake & Ohio RR) had to pull local switching service off their Piedmont Subdivision, after years of having an engine serve local businesses.  Sprague's Gravel Company, a small gravel pit that sends out six-eight hopper cars of aggregates a day (around 490 TONS!) to regional construction supply companies, was left in the hunt for something to keep them operating, w/o breaking the bank.  VP of Operations, N. David Wolf was tasked by Founder & CEO Bob Sprague to "find us some power!"  So, after an exhaustive search from several regional railroads, the small but strong Virginia Midland RR stepped up and found an ex-Western Maryland GE 44-ton plant switcher, in lay-up, in the far corners of Western MD & West Virginia and negotiated a favorable deal to purchase it and set up a long-term lease with Sprague's Gravel Co.

SGCX #1 shows off her Heritage, with a faded, yet still recognizable WM 'Flaming Herald'.

The ex-WM #76 was originally transported to Traintek LLC for new LED lighting and upgraded electronic (DCC) controls, then down to VA Midland's Shops in Spotsylvania in May, and after a consult with Mr. Wolf & Mr. Crabtree abt paint & lettering, underwent a 3 month servicing and relettering. SGCX #1 is ready to go to work & should be picked up this Sunday.  "Upgrading and recycling an old loco was a much more cost-effective deal for all parties and keeps the money locally," stated N. David Wolf.  Mr. Crabtree agreed:  "We are glad to serve our local customers in any way we can, & look forward to building relations and engaging in quality work." 

The Richmond, Fredericksburg, & Potomac RR, operating in nearby Doswell Junction, is also impressed with the VA Midland Shops.  "We've sent one of our newer GP-40s over there, when our own shops in Acca Yard were full-up and were quite satisfied with the work.  We hope to send more work their way soon."  For more information, contact the Virginia Midland Shops at  stctigers@gmail.com for a reasonable quote.  Pictures of their work can be found at http://www.pbase.com/vamidlandrr/custom_freight_cars.

Norman Wolf contributed to this story.  All photos courtesy of Shan Crabtree, VA Midland Shops

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