Article

Satellites and Camelbacks

Written by: Gary Dolzall.

Norfolk Southern’s distinctive General Electric C39-8 is now available for Train Simulator!

There is a tradition as old as railroading itself to coin nicknames for locomotives, and when a locomotive class earns nicknames as diverse as “satellites” and “camelbacks,” odds are it’s an interesting beast. And such is certainly the case with the Norfolk Southern General Electric C39-8, which is now available for Train Simulator!

Developed in exacting detail by Virtual Rail Creations and featuring a bevy of realistic operating features, the Norfolk Southern GE C39-8 is a potent six-axle (C-C), 390,000-pound, 3,900-horsepower workhorse of a locomotive capable of tying onto the heaviest unit coal trains, yet also able to hustle intermodal traffic.

A member of General Electric’s 1980s-era “Dash 8” locomotive line that featured advanced microprocessor controls for efficiency and improved reliability and modular components for ease of maintenance, the C39-8 was constructed by GE from 1984 through 1987 and 161 units (including a variant, the C39-8E) were constructed. Far and away the largest customer for the C39-8 was Norfolk Southern, which purchased 114 C39-8s from 1984 through 1986 as well as 25 C39-8Es in 1987. The lone other purchaser of the C39-8 was Conrail, which acquired 22 of the locomotives in 1986.

Now available for Train Simulator service, the GE C39-8 as crafted by Virtual Rail Creations is an authentic re-creation of Norfolk Southern’s distinctive units, all but two of which were configured to primarily operate long-hood forward with a single bi-directional control stand. It was the NS C39-8s penchant for running long-hood forward, and the unique appearance the units offered with large flared radiators leading the way, that fostered the nickname “satellites” for the diesels, while the units’ raised dynamic brake and blower box adjacent to the rounded cab produced the nickname “camelbacks.” Regardless of what one called the big GE diesels, they were both powerful and resilient, and the C39-8s served Norfolk Southern for a quarter-century before finally being retired in 2009.

The Train Simulator Norfolk Southern C39-8 is packed with authentic and realistic operating features, including cold-start options, a detailed and interactive master controller and rear-of-cab control panel, working Head-of-Train and End-of-Train devices, and Pennsylvania Railroad-style cab signals. And the husky locomotive is provided in clean, weathered, and snow-dressed versions of the classic Norfolk Southern livery.

Along with the C39-8, this new pack also includes a variety of freight rolling stock, highlighted by Norfolk Southern’s innovative Triple Crown 53-foot RoadRailers in two variations (smooth-side and ribbed), as well as modern 2-bay covered hoppers in Norfolk & Western and Southern liveries, and a Norfolk Southern 100-ton, three-bay coal hopper. And to put the big GE diesel and its rolling stock to work, four career scenarios for the Train Simulator Horseshoe Curve route are provided (the line became part of Norfolk Southern in 1999; the route available separately).

The distinctive, powerful, and highly authentic Norfolk Southern General Electric C39-8 for Train Simulator is now available at the Steam Store! – Gary Dolzall

C39-02 Created in exacting detail by partner programme member Virtual Rail Creations, the Norfolk Southern General Electric C39-8 is now available for Train Simulator duty. Norfolk Southern purchased 114 of the 3,900-horsepower, six-axle GE diesels between 1984 and 1986 and used the distinctive locomotives for a quarter-century. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall. C39-03 Norfolk Southern’s C39-8s were configured to primarily run long-hood forward, and such is the case as NS 8643 and a sister climb the east slope of the Alleghenies on the Train Simulator Horseshoe Curve route (above). On a decidedly less favorable day, a trio of C39-8s are also battling the Alleghenies (below). It was the unique appearance the units offered with large flared radiators leading the way that fostered the nickname “satellites,” while the units’ raised dynamic brake and blower box produced the nickname “camelbacks.” C39-04 C39-05 Virtual Rail Creations’ Norfolk Southern C39-8 features a realistic cab loaded with authentic controls and operating features ranging from cold-start procedures to working HOT and EOT devices – and from the engineer’s seat, it’s a long look indeed down the big unit’s long hood to the tracks ahead. C39-06 Equipped with a bi-directional control stand, Norfolk Southern’s C39-8s also frequently operated with short hood to the front. NS C39-8 8559 and a sister are hustling Triple Crown RoadRailers east from Johnstown on the Horseshoe Curve route (above), while NS 8613 is doing lone duty with RoadRailers as it passes famed MG Tower on the east slope of the Alleghenies (below). C39-07 C39-08 Along with the GE C39-8, this new add-on pack from Virtual Rail Creations includes a variety of rolling stock highlighted by Norfolk Southern’s innovative Triple Crown RoadRailers. Smooth- and ribbed-side version of the 53-foot RoadRailers are included. C39-09 Also included in the Norfolk Southern C39-8 pack are modern two-bay covered hoppers as typically used to haul cement, sand, and aggregates in Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway liveries (above) and a Norfolk Southern 100-ton coal hopper (below). C39-10 C39-11 Satellites or Camelbacks or simply C39-8s … regardless of what one called the big Norfolk Southern GE diesels, they were powerful and memorable – and the Train Simulator Norfolk Southern General Electric C39-8 is now available at the Steam Store!

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