SP’s Geeps and Cadillacs (VHS)

SP’s Geeps and Cadillacs: Vintage Workhorses


Source: VHS tape

Length: 53 minutes

Time Period: 1994

Locations: Fresno Line, Ione Branch, Stockton Yard

Source: Pentrex

These first generation diesels were getting scarce on Class One railroads by the mid 90’s. Southern Pacific still had some rebuilds in service. In this show, they are viewed in an agricultural region of California. If you are asking about the title, here is some info.

Geeps were a nickname for early GP7 and GP9 diesels. Cadillac was a moniker used by Southern Pacific crews for SD7 and SD9 locomotives. In the old days, the long wheelbase units were smooth riders, like a Cadillac.

In fact, the term Geep was used in the post World War 2 era. GP stood for General Purpose locomotive, as used by Electromotive. Supposedly, the comparison was to the utilitarian characteristics of the US Army Jeeps. GP7 and GP9 models were the all purpose diesels of the 1950’s.

Years ago, it was a stretch to call the newer GP30 and GP35’s a Geep.  As time passed, the term was used even more loosely. A 1970’s turbocharged GP40-2 really isn’t a Geep in the same way. Seems as if any EMD with 4 axle trucks ended up being called a Geep. Perhaps this transition of the nickname illustrates the nature of the original General Purpose designation. A Geep will do everything on the railroad. By the way, the majority this discussion is not present, in the script. Interesting background though, isn’t it?

Here we have a VHS tape of this Pentrex show. Although I prefer the  DVD format, this will be reviewed, as the tape was available. If a DVD version appears, the upgraded show will be revisted.

Some on-screen graphics denote: trains, locomotives and locations. A map references the Ione Branch. Would have liked more maps. This is an older show, maps weren’t as widespread.

Narration is the usual pro quality that we expect from Pentrex. The narrative will keep us current and informed, of every train in the scenes. Natural audio sounds are the main background. Camerawork and audio is fine overall.

Southern Pacific was still utilizing these 40 year old EMD locomotives in the 1990’s. The rebuilt GP9, SD7 and SD9 models were operating in Central California. While many other roads rebuilds had their noses chopped, SP units retained the original high hoods.They were being used in mainline and branchline service.

Stockton Yard offers our best chance for close up looks at SD7/9 diesels. A GP9 is still in SP Kodachrome. The paint was for the failed SPSF merger.

A pair of good looking GP9E locos haul The Turlock local out of Stockton Yard.

The Lodi local gets featured as it performs switching at Lodi, with a pair of GP9E diesels. There is a segment of SP street running in the downtown area. Other through trains behind GP9 and SD7/9 lash-ups are interspersed with the locals workday. At Galt, the local turns onto the Ione branch. Good edits let many freight cars pass for the viewer to watch, In Ione, there is interchange with Amador Central. A rare Baldwin S12 waits for SP to drop it’s cars. The SP train picks up a string of cars for the return to Galt.

A cab ride in the lead GP9E 3742 is our way back to the mainline at Galt. It would have been good to hear some commentary from the Engineer. We do spend time watching him work the controls and drive the train. His silence feels odd. Back to exteriors and end of program. The Lodi local occupies a large portion of this show. Maybe a bit too much.

Based on the title, I was expecting equal coverage of the SD ‘Cadillacs’. Those SD7/9 units are seen in lash-ups on the mainline freights. Not bad, just rather shallow. The tape imagery doesn’t score as high as a comparative DVD would . Had greater expectations for more depth and variety within this program. Overall, a good  presentation.

Rating: 3 Stars


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