“Reading 284” is an EMD F7 painted to replicate those operated by the Reading Company in New Jersey. Reading’s F7 line was the last order of cab units the railroad received. Built in 1950, the fleet included 18 A units and 6 B units. In addition to hauling freight, Reading’s F7s were a common sight on their main line through northern New Jersey. In an effort to upgrade their fleet, the F7s were traded in to EMD in 1964 and scrapped shortly there after.
This F7 began its life as Chicago & Northwestern 4074A in 1949. In 1961, it was rebuilt for passenger service and given a head end power generator and a new number: 424. It was its ability to power coaches which drew New Jersey Transit to purchase it and its sister locomotives in 1983. Only two years later they were retired and 424 was donated to the URHS. To help represent one of NJ’s major railroads, the URHS chose to replicate the Reading F7s that were scrapped almost 4 decades earlier.
URHS volunteers restored 284 to turn it in to an interactive display, free of the hazards of an in-service locomotive. Visitors can go inside it, touch it, and learn about it and other diesel locomotives from a first-person perspective.
Reading 284 en route to Spencer, North Carolina to be a part of the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s “Streamliners at Spencer.” Photo by Ron Tilley