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Locomotive 438 Layover Heater Installation

Grant provided by The Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Thanks to a generous grant from the Emery Rail Heritage Trust, the Black River Railroad Historical Trust has been able to purchase and install a layover heater in diesel locomotive No. 438. This grant, for $15,000, covered the purchase and installation of the layover heater inside the locomotive, as well as the electrical components required to plug in the layover heater.

A layover heater represents a significant step forward for the Black River Railroad Historical Trust. This device heats and circulates coolant water at 80° Fahrenheit while the locomotive is shut down. Engines of this design cannot use antifreeze to keep from freezing, so in cold weather, the water pipes would freeze and break if the water was not heated. In the past, without a way to heat the water, the locomotive would have to be drained and stored during the colder months. Now, the Black River Railroad Historical Trust has a diesel locomotive that can be operational year-round.

The layover heater was purchased from Hotstart, along with an installation kit consisting of brackets and pipes that were required to mount the layover heater and connect to the necessary places within the locomotive. The installation kit kept labor down, avoiding the need to custom fit pipes and brackets on site during the installation. McHugh Locomotive & Equipment was contracted to do the installation, which included mounting the layover heater, connecting all the necessary piping, and providing a place to plug in the layover heater.

Outside of the locomotive, our electrician had to run eighty feet of conduit to a location outside of our shop near where locomotive 438 ties up. He installed a switch and a plug outside the shop, and purchased 100 feet of cable, complete with special pin contactors for high current applications, to allow the locomotive to be plugged in and make the layover heater function. Future plans call for a second switch and plug close to our station that will allow for the engine to be tied down with the passenger equipment overnight. Below are some images showcasing the project.


a store filled with lots of books

Figure 1 – The new layover heater installed towards the front of locomotive 438. The mounting brackets from the installation kit are to the left, securing the heater to the locomotive.


Figure 2 – The new switch and plug for the layover, located along the “A Line” building.

Figure 3 – The plug on locomotive 438 to attach the layover heater. This is located on the left side near the No. 1 axle.


Figure 4 – Location of the layover heater on locomotive 438.

Figure 5 – The pump on the newly installed layover heater used to circulate water through the locomotive.