Name: WM No.81
Railroad of Record: Western Maryland Railway Type of Locomotive: GM-EMD model BL-2 1500 hp, road switcher Builder No.: 5921 Manufactured by: General Motors, Electro-Motive Division Date Built: October 1948
Locomotive Weight: 116 tons
Prime Mover: EMD V-16 Model 567B (two cycle) 1500 hp Starting Tractive Effort: 58,000 lbs Maximum Speed: 50 mph
The BL-2 was General Motor's first attempt to design a road switcher (BL stands for branch line). They were used for local runs, and passenger and freight trains. The BL-2s had a sculpted body, which allowed the engineer to see the rear of the locomotive for switching operations in reverse. The BL-2s were placed into production in 1948 and quickly discontinued a year later due to minimal sales. They were expensive to build and maintain, compared to the new GP-7 model.
The Western Maryland Railway (WM) received two BL-2s and made the most of them. The No. 81 and 82 were placed in service on the main line and ran there until 1968. They were assigned to the Hagerstown, Maryland hump yard and they were paired with un-powered slugs. A slug was a set of trucks and traction motors under a heavy ballasted frame, which took its power from a mated locomotive. In 1976, with the advent of the Chessie System, the No. 81 was renumbered as the No. 7181. In 1982, the No. 7181 retired from service. In 1983, the No. 7181 was repainted and renumbered to its original Western Maryland appearance and donated to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.
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