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Railroad Operating Battalion


The locomotive was built for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps. by the State Root Heath Co. of Plymouth, Ohio as a “JLB Type 2 Plymouth” and carries U.S. Army serial number 4252. It was shipped on October 14, 1941 to the U.S. Army Proving Ground at Lacarne, Ohio.
From Lacarne, Ohio, it was sent to the huge Army storage depot in Somerset, New Jersey.
The little Plymouth switcher was used there for 57 years until the depot was shut down in 1998.

As originally built, the switcher’s Buda engine was coupled through a heavy-duty 4-speed truck transmission and clutch to the drive wheels. In the mid 70’s, a new 160 hp Detroit Diesel engine was installed along with a torque converter automatic transmission.

     Sixteen club members reported to the Somerset VA depot around 8:30 a.m. the morning of July 12, 2003. The first order of business was putting down crushed stones along the tracks so Phil Francis could straddle the tracks with his gooseneck trailer. Two additional lengths of track were used to make a ramp from the roadbed to the trailer.  We connected a cable from the locomotive to Dan Muchmore’s deuce and with much grunting and groaning from the deuce, managed to tug the locomotive along the track, up the ramp, and onto the trailer. We disassembled the ramp, hooked up the tractor to the trailer, and formed up in a very unusual convoy for the 27-mile journey to Morristown.
Upon arriving at the M&E yards in Morristown, it was a matter of reversing the whole procedure. Plop down the trailer at a grade crossing, build a ramp, ease the locomotive off the trailer and onto the tracks, after which an M&E 3000hp Alco switcher pushed the little Plymouth to a place of honor on Track 3.
When the locomotive is fully operational, restored, and glowing in its original military colors, we intend to display it at various weekend events at Whippany Railroad Museum and also at the NJ State Transportation Museum in Phillipsburg when it opens in 2005.

Come see it!

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This page last updated 12/29/2009