It’s a sound heard thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of times each day around the world: the low hum of an electric starter motor, the raucous clatter of valves and the joyful noise of a two-cycle Electro-Motive diesel roaring to life. When Craig Jolliffe turned the start switch in the engine room of 1957-vintage Ontario Southland FP9 No. 1400 on Tuesday afternoon, a rust-streaked 16-645C prime mover that had been dormant for a half-dozen years awakened as if it had been shut down only yesterday. The familiar EMD chant filled the dingy confines of the engine room and as Jolliffe leaned into the lay shaft and revved the 16-cylinder engine, the dwindling population of operable F units officially increased by one.
The boys at the Salford shop still have work to do before No. 1400 joins sister FP9s 1401 and 6508 hauling freight in the employ of Ontario Southland. There are fan relays to be replaced, a rebuilt air-compressor to be installed, and fingers are crossed in hopes that the main generator will pass a load test.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the sweet sound of OSR 1400 running up to notch six was a triumphant song. A joyful noise indeed.